LeBron James Just Honored Kobe Bryant in a Huge Way

On Jan. 26, one of the most iconic players in the NBA — Kobe Bryant — tragically lost his life.

Having gone straight from high school to the NBA, Bryant had a legendary 20-year career. He was named MVP on several occasions, earned 18 All-Star selections, and led the LA Lakers to myriad victories.

Many fans and friends took to social media to express just how sad they are that Bryant is no longer with us. And recently, fellow Lakers star LeBron James made a touching tribute to honor the late Kobe Bryant.

The tragic death of Kobe Bryant

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My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality. To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org. Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba #Mambacita #GirlsDad #DaddysGirls #Family ❤️

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On the morning of Jan. 26, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant — as well as three other teenage girls and four other adults, including the pilot — boarded a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter to attend a youth basketball event at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. According to reports, the conditions were extremely foggy that day.

In fact, it was suspected that shortly after takeoff, the pilot had to circle Glendale for about 14 minutes because visibility was too low to continue to their destination. Once the helicopter reached Calabasas, something happened to make it lose control, and the helicopter crashed in a rural area, killing all nine occupants.

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi were pronounced dead at the scene, as well as the other victims: Sarah and Payton Chester; Christina Mauser; Ara Zobayan; and John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli.

Kobe Bryant made friends on the court

Kobe Bryant speaks to the media at a press conference.
Kobe Bryant | Harry How/Getty Images

In the 20 seasons that Bryant played for the NBA, he made many friends on and off the court. But one friendship that was just starting to grow stronger was his relationship with LeBron James.

In the past, James said he had always looked up to Bryant. In fact, he said it was because of Bryant that he had the courage to go to the NBA straight out of high school.

The two players never really got a chance to properly meet each other until they were both picked to play on the USA basketball team at the 2008 Olympics. While at the Olympics, James and Bryant really got to know each other and formed a friendship.

Then, in 2018, James signed on with the Lakers. The first season that James was with the Lakers, he and Bryant didn’t see much of each other. But last year, Bryant started to bring his daughter Gigi, who was also a talented basketball player, to watch the Lakers on a regular basis.

And that is when Bryant and James’ friendship started to grow stronger. At almost every game that Bryant and Gigi attended, fans got to see James and Bryant laughing and talking with each other.

Just a day before Bryant’s death, it was announced that James had surpassed Bryant’s all-time scoring record. Many of James’ fans were happy, but nobody seemed to be as proud of James as Bryant himself.

Just hours before the helicopter crash, Bryant tweeted: “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.”

LeBron James pays tribute to the late Kobe Bryant

Just days after Bryant’s tragic accident, James got a tattoo honoring his late friend.

The large tattoo features a black mamba snake that is curled around the numbers 8 and 24; Bryant wore both numbers during his time with the Lakers. A large rose sits right above the snake, and the words “Mamba 4 Life” are elegantly written below the picture.

James’ new tattoo is a thoughtful way of remembering Bryant. Because Bryant left such a lasting impression on so many people around the world, we are sure that his memory will never be forgotten.

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