LeBron James paid tribute to Kobe Bryant on Instragram, saying goodbye to the Los Angeles Lakers and pledging to carry on his legacy.
Ever since this weekend’s devastating news broke, the tributes, thoughts and prayers have been pouring in from all over the world for Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the other seven people who died in a tragic helicopter crash in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Less than 24 hours after he had passed one of his idols and NBA contemporaries for third on the league’s all-time scoring list, LeBron James grieved No. 24’s death like the rest of the world. Late on Monday night, the King was able to compose himself and gather his emotions for a Kobe tribute of his own on Instagram.
“I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!” James wrote, echoing the sentiments of Los Angeles Lakers and NBA fans around the globe. “Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids.”
James mentioned the departed Gigi as well as Kobe’s wife Vanessa, who survives Bryant along with their other three children.
In a series of photos, LeBron included images of him dapping up the Black Mamba, laughing with him on Team USA, embracing with the Lakers legend on the sidelines, a Photoshopped image of the two of them on the court together in Lakers jerseys and Bryant’s final tweet, which congratulated LeBron for passing him on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
James also pledged to carry on Kobe’s legacy, asking for strength from above and noting that this is only until they meet again.
LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were on-court rivals when their playing days overlapped to some degree, but even though they never met in the NBA Finals, this just demonstrates how close of a bond they shared — not only as living Lakers legends and all-time great champions, but simply as family in the brotherhood that is the NBA.
It’s been apparent in every on-court tribute, every pained expression on the faces of players who are just trying to get through an incredibly difficult week and every outpouring of grief and love for the Bryant family on social media. LeBron’s Instagram post is a heart-wrenching goodbye, but it’s also a fitting tribute to No. 24 and a beautiful example of the love and brotherhood this league contains.