AS THE Lakers returned to the hardcourt for the first time since the death of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James revealed a close look at a very personal tribute he'd made to honor the man he calls his brother.
On Instagram, he posted a close-up photo of his newest tattoo: a snake, a reference to Bryant's nickname of "Black Mamba". Among its coils are the numbers 8 and 24, as well as two roses.
The words "Mamba 4 Life" are written in script underneath.
James accompanied the tattoo photo with a throwback picture of himself and Bryant at the 2008 Olympics, resting his head against the shoulder of the late star.
Just the day before, California-based tattoo artist Vanessa Aurelia had posted a video of herself inking the design on James' right thigh. Teammate Anthony Davis was also getting the same tattoo on his left thigh.
At the somber Lakers locker room before the game against the Trail Blazers, James had also hung a #24 Kobe jersey beside his own locker.
""He's been really a tower of strength for all of us," Lakers coach Frank Vogel told Beth Harris of the Associated Press. "We're following his lead."
In an emotional Friday night (Saturday morning, Manila time), Portland defeated the Lakers, 127-119.