LeBron James Debuts Tattoo Honoring Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James - Getty-H 2020
M. Caulfield/WireImage

Fellow Laker Anthony Davis also got some new ink to honor the NBA star who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

LeBron James has permanently paid tribute to the late former NBA star Kobe Bryant with a tattoo of a black mamba snake to honor The Black Mamba, Bryant's alter-ego that he created to separate who he was personally from his role on the court. The tattoo reads "Mamba 4 Life."

James revealed his new thigh tattoo on Friday afternoon, right before the Los Angeles Lakers' first game since Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday. The Lakers are set to take on the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center at 7:30 p.m. PT.

See the tattoo in James's Instagram post below (click through to the second image):

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

My brother ? #Mamba4Life #RIPKobe #RIPGiGi

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Fellow Laker Anthony Davis appears to have the same black mamba ink as James. Tattoo artist Vanessa Aurelia posted the work she was doing on the two NBA players on her Instagram story.

James also posted on his Instagram story, which has since expired, that he was back in the tattoo parlor with Aurelia, captioning it, "It's that time again! Working with my girl @Nessaurelia!!" Though the ink's details are not clear, the words "Kobe 4 Life" or "Mamba 4 Life" can be briefly read.

A few days after the crash that killed Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people, including the pilot, James took to Instagram to express his sadness over the loss of his longtime friend, as well as his "niece Gigi."

James began the caption stating that he wasn't ready to publicly explain how he was feeling because every time he tried to, he started crying.

"I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA," the All-Star player wrote. "Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!" James said his heart was going out to Vanessa, Bryant's wife, and their kids and promised to continue the legend's legacy. "You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!!" 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

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! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! 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!! #Mamba4Life #Gigi4Life

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

A couple days after James' Instagram tribute to Bryant, Vanessa broke her silence on her husband and daughter's deaths via her own account. She started off by thanking all the millions of people around the world who were showing their support and love for her family and for the families of the other people who died in the accident.

"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," Vanessa continued. "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."

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 
 

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

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on

The crash, which triggered a brushfire on a hillside outside Los Angeles, is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.