Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is one of the most beloved players in NBA history. Bryant set an example of hard work, determination, and drive to improve, inspiring generations of hoopers for years to come. Evidently, the Black Mamba inspired Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant to the point that Morant would want an indelible reminder of Bryant's impact to follow him wherever he goes.
On the NBA Tattoo (@inkednba) Instagram account, the Grizzlies star revealed the new tattoos on his back. Those pieces include tributes to every team he has played for in his career from high school to the NBA as well as a few Bryant tributes on the lower back. Those Bryant tributes include the Mamba's iconic logo as well as his legendary “24” number written in the Lakers font with the word “Mentality” printed on top of it.
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Seeing Ja Morant honor Kobe Bryant in this manner is so surreal. In fact, Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant's star teammate during the Lakers' three-peat from 2000 to 2002, even said in the past that the Grizzlies star reminds him of the legendary shooting guard due to their similar demeanor when on the court.
“He has the ‘it' factor. He knows he's the best guy on the court,” O'Neal said. “I made this statement a couple of months ago that he reminds me of Kobe — and he does.”
However, Ja Morant denied Shaquille O'Neal's claims, saying that there can only be one Kobe Bryant. And he's right — it's difficult to find anyone who can match Bryant's force of personality.
Bryant may have passed away too soon, and in tragic fashion no less, but it's clear that everything the Lakers star stood for — relentless self-improvement, legendary work ethic — remains alive in the cream of the crop in the NBA, as evidenced by Ja Morant's new tattoos. Here's to hoping that the Grizzlies star doesn't throw it all away with his off-court troubles, as the future is bright for the 23-year old highflyer for as long as he remains focused on the task at hand — like Bryant was.