The multitude of tributes for the late Kobe Bryant have been touching, including the offerings the Staple Center, customized shoes, and even songs. However, some—like Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James—have taken a more permanent step, electing to tattoo the NBA legend’s name, his self-given nickname, face, or jersey numbers.
Many of those folks are celebrities, and it’s sparked a recent, viral trend.
Kobe Bryant tattoos
James and Anthony Davis honored Bryant with matching thigh tattoos of his namesake animal, the Black Mamba. Completed by celebrity go-to Vanessa Aurelia, the tattoo includes a black mamba snake, the numbers 24 and 8, roses and the words “Mamba 4 Lyfe.
“Every time I look at my tattoos, it puts me back in the perspective of time, or the inspiration behind it,” James said to the Athletic. “So that’s all part of the journey.”
Davis stated, in the same interview: “I don’t have any meaningless tats, so knowing how much Kobe meant to me, I felt like for me, the impact that he had on my life and my basketball career, I felt like it was only right for me to get a tattoo to remember him.”
Football star Odell Beckham Jr. and NBA free agent J.R. Smith got ink of Bryant’s image, too. Shaquille O’Neal’s son Shareef, rappers 2Chainz and Los Angeles-born the Game, and soccer star Sydney Leroux showed their love with tattoos fusing Bryant’s and his daughter Gianna’s jersey numbers.
Amber Rose said her recent face tattoo was inspired by Bryant as well.
“I don’t want this to sound corny or anything but kinda after Kobe died, it made me reflect on my life,” Rose said in a recent interview with Pop Crush. “I don’t want people to be like, ‘Oh Kobe died and you went and got a tattoo,’ but it was kinda like that.”
The U.S. women’s soccer star wrote on Instagram: “Your dad told me that you were going to be better than he was. You had the gift no matter what you were playing. I know you’ll be looking down on your mom and your sisters with your big smile while shooting hoops with your dad, doing what you both love. 2 will always be ours.”
Fans of the late NBA great assembled for a memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, honoring the future Hall of Famer’s life following a helicopter crash killed Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others in January.
Among the attendees were Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Magic Johnson, Jimmy Kimmel, and many other current and retired basketball stars. Bryant’s tearful wife Vanessa spoke, as did Bryant’s idol Michael Jordan, and former teammate O’Neal.
The adoration of Bryant and his legacy will continue on later this year, as he will be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.