The design features a snake — a reference to Kobe Bryant's "Black Mamba" nickname — and the late athlete's jersey numbers

By Gabrielle Chung
January 31, 2020 10:24 PM
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LeBron James is giving fans a closer look at his body ink tribute to Kobe Bryant, who died on Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of his daughter Gianna and seven other victims.

On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers star, 35, shared a close-up photo of his fresh ink alongside a throwback shot of him sitting courtside with Bryant, 41, on Instagram.

“My brother ♾ #Mamba4Life #RIPKobe #RIPGiGi,” he captioned the pictures.

As seen in the post, James’ new tattoo features a snake — a reference to Bryant’s “Black Mamba” nickname — and the late athlete’s jersey numbers, 8 and 24. The design also includes two roses as well as the words “Mamba 4 Life” inked below the black serpent.

LeBron James’ tattoo
| Credit: Lebron James/Instagram

James first announced his tribute tattoo in an Instagram Story post shared on Wednesday, in which he revealed he was in the process of getting a design inked on his left thigh from artist Vanessa Aurelia.

Lakers star Anthony Davis also shared a video of himself receiving a similar tattoo, but he has yet to reveal exactly what he had got.

“@kingjames thank you for letting me Do this piece for you!!” Aurelia shared in an Instagram post on Friday. “From the bottom of my heart it was an honor and you’re the dopest to work with! Making my job easy’!! ??#mambamentality #mamba4life #lakers #RIP.”

She added, “@kobebryant you are missed loved and cherished through many.”

Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, were on their way to a youth basketball game with parents and players from the Mamba Sports Academy girls’ team when their helicopter crashed amid foggy conditions on a hill in Calabasas, Calif. The two died alongside pilot Ara Zobayan, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli.

Following news of the fatal crash, James posted the first of his two Instagram tributes to Bryant on Monday night.

Kobe Bryant (left) and LeBron James (right)
| Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

“I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had!” he said of Bryant, who won five championships in 20 seasons with the Lakers.

“It’s my responsibility to put this s— on my back and keep it going!!” he continued. “Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!!”

The next day, the three-time NBA champion uploaded a video of him greeting Bryant and Gianna during a recent game at the Staples Center.

“My brother!! I love you man!!” he wrote captioned the clip.

The night before Bryant’s death, James and the Lakers legend shared a special moment.

During the Jan. 25 game between the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers, James — who wore special shoes during the performance that paid tribute to Bryant — passed the basketball icon for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Bryant later on congratulated James on the milestone with a message on Instagram, reading: “On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next.”