LeBron James was silent for a long time in the aftermath of the Kobe Bryant tragedy. Though he was always pitted as a rival against the Mamba, the two shared a mutual respect for each other that went beyond the game of basketball. They were friends.
There is footage of Bron breaking down in tears as he exits the team plane and, most recently, he changed his profile picture in memory of the 5x NBA Champion and his daughter. The picture, which features Bryant and his daughter GiGi, was taken during of Bryant’s title wins.
Bron also posted a heartfelt message in which he promised to carry on his legacy.
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! LeBron wrote on Instagram.
Perhaps most emotional was Bron's message on Instagram.
Coming out of High School into the NBA, Bryant served as a mentor and role model to Bron. He understood what James was going through, maybe more than anyone else.
As the years went by, James formed a deeper relationship with Bryant as a competitor and friend. It started out in 2008 when the two were part of the Team USA Redeem Team. From there, they'd have a number of interactions as their legacies crossed paths.
As the world mourns the death of an icon, LeBron and many others around the association will be playing with an extra chip on their shoulder all season long.