Kobe Bryant tattoo
Mamba Forever/Instagram

When a public figure who was admired by many dies, we grieve collectively. We feel the loss even if we never actually met the person. We feel compelled to express our sorrow and our gratitude with others who are feeling it, too. That's what happened when Kobe Bryant died on January 26, 2020, with his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash. People throughout the world mourned his death and wanted to pay tribute to him. Some did it by getting tattoos to honor Kobe's legacy and to keep his memory alive

More from MamásLatinas: Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa shares loving tributes to her husband & daughter

We all deal with loss and grief in different ways. We heal in different ways. We pay tribute in different ways. Many times we don't get to share how we are grieving or paying tribute because the death of someone we care about can't really be understood by others, so we keep it to ourselves. But when someone like Kobe, who was known throughout the world, dies so unexpectedly, it sparks a kind of global conversation. We remember that person together, and some people take it a step further. 

For fans, friends, or family of Kobe Bryant who are also fans of body art, it makes sense that they would want to get a tattoo of the late basketball legend to keep his memory alive. We've gathered a few of our favorite tattoos of Kobe and Gianna "Gigi" Bryant to share with you. Some are on people who knew him well, and some are on people who never had the pleasure, but still care deeply.

"Only two things are forever." 1

This fan always wanted a tattoo of Kobe Bryant, and after Kobe's death, he decided it was time. When he posted this picture, he wrote about what the tattoo means to him and what the artist, Lana, who gave it to him said: "It’ll forever be a reminder that life is short and precious. Take advantage of each day and strive to be greater than the day before and always make time for the loved ones in my life. As Lana said before I left, 'Only two things are forever, legends and tattoos.'"


Kobe's sister Sharia Washington went for symbolism with her tattoo. 2

Kobe give himself the nickname Black Mamba, and it stuck. It makes sense that his sister would get a tattoo featuring both Gigi's and Kobe's jersey numbers with a black mamba snake wrapped around them in a shape that evokes an infinity symbol. It's still so hard to believe that two such vibrant people are gone.


Kobe and his beautiful daughter shining together. 3

Vanessa Bryant reshared on her own account this photograph of a tattoo that a fan got of her beloved daughter and husband. Vanessa wrote the following caption: "Just came across this. So amazing. What a BEAUTIFUL tribute to my Gigi and Kobe. Kobe would never want to outshine our baby girl. Thank you for honoring them together❤️."

Mother and World Cup champion Sydney Leroux got a number 2. 4

Aside from being a superstar soccer player, Sydney is a mother of two. She knows what a mother's love feels like on a personal level. That she got a number 2 tattoo in honor of Gigi had to have touched Vanessa Bryant so much. When Vanessa shared this image, she wrote: "#2 ❤️, Leroux. Thank you for honoring my Gigi. I love you @sydneyleroux." It's one mother showing love to another mother in such a profound way.


This fan chose to honor Kobe's early-career jersey number. 5

Although most people are honoring Kobe with his number 24 jersey, this fan has a great reason for choosing the number 8 jersey Kobe wore instead. He wrote: "I chose #8 over #24 because when I was 8 years old I fell in love with the tenacious young kid straight outta Lower Merion high school. This Kobe dropped 81 in a game and would rip out his enemies heart with a last second dunk or game winner at the buzzer! Us die hard Lakers fans would jump for joy and it never got old seeing him win and later be able to call himself a 5 time NBA champion!"


LeBron James pays tribute for life. 6

Kobe died on a Sunday, and the very next Friday LeBron James shared this tribute tattoo that he got on his thigh in honor of the Black Mamba. It features both of Kobe's jersey numbers and a black mamba snake. Underneath it all, the words, "Mamba 4 Life" are permanently etched on LeBron. Just one day before his death, Kobe tweeted to congratulate LeBron for passing him and moving up to third place on the NBA all-time scoring list.


LeBron James isn't the only Laker who got a Kobe tattoo. 7

Guess whose thigh this is? It belongs to Anthony Davis. He's number 3 on the Lakers, and this beautiful tattoo is clearly an homage to fellow Laker Kobe Bryant. It was created by Vanessa Aurelia, the same tattoo artist who did LeBron's Kobe tattoo. When she shared this image of her work on Anthony's thigh, she wrote: "Thank you @antdavis23 for letting me do this piece for you! It was an honor, and thanks for making my job easy, the hospitality and with the trust. 🏀."

Kobe looks so pensive in this rendition. 8

This piece on Cleveland Cavaliers JR Smith was also created by tattoo artist Vanessa Aurelia, who is becoming the go-to for Kobe-inspired tattoos. She really seems to have a gift for capturing the late basketball player. In this case, she managed to make Kobe look so pensive. It makes you want to know exactly what he's thinking.


Shaquille's son Shareef O'Neal was close to Kobe. 9

In early February, Shareef O'Neal shared these images of the tattoos he got in honor of the late Kobe and Gianna Bryant. Shareef was in contact with Kobe via text just hours before Kobe died in that awful helicopter crash. On January 28, Shareef posted an image of himself sitting next to Kobe's jerseys and wrote: "You always wanted me to be the best I could be.. you always made sure I was happy, you put me before you put yourself and when we had our moments you made me feel like I was great ... 8|24 ❤️ 2 . I love you , I thank you , I miss you ❤️."

2 Chainz got a 2 and a 4. 10

On January 26, rapper 2 Chainz posted a group picture that included the smiling faces of Kobe and Gigi with the caption: "Heart broken and speechless 🙏🏿 😢😢if you know me you know this killing me right now Rest In Peace Bean and Gigi Bryant and prayers to Vanessa and the Bryant family and the rest of the families involved." Then on February 10, he shared this photo of the 2 and 4 tattoos he got on the inside of his legs in honor of number 24, Kobe Bryant.


Odell Beckham Jr. learned a lot from Kobe. 11

Odell Beckham Jr. is a football player, but that didn't stop him from learning huge lessons from Kobe. "You taught us ALL so many valuable lessons Kobe. Your sacrifice and dedication to this game is somethin that ever[y] athlete can admire. You showed us that there is no substitute for hard work. You’ve been thru it, yet u always found a way to overcame it all. This one hurt beyond words. I still can’t believe it. Somethin I live by and constantly remind myself of is that 'Tomorrow isn’t promised.' We’re gonna miss u brother. My prayers go out to the Bryant family and others. 2020 is for u champ, that’s my word!!! Rest easy King. Rest easy GiGi. LUV," wrote Odell on January 29.

The Game got a face tattoo. 12

The Game really went for it with his Kobe Bryant tattoo. The rapper had the number 8 tattooed sideways over his eyebrow. When he posted this picture of it on February 8, he wrote: "♾ F O R E V E R." Wow, just WOW, is all we can say!


This fan's first tattoo was for Kobe. 13

This fan thought his first tattoo would be in honor of either his mother or father. Then Kobe died, and he felt compelled to get this tribute. It's a beautiful line rendition of Kobe walking away with the words "Mamba Out" on it. It kind of gets you right in the feels.

A sweet message in Italian. 14

Kobe spent part of his childhood in Italy and was fluent in Italian, which makes this particular tribute perfect. “Mamba per sempre” means "Mamba forever" in Italian. It's incredibly touching how so many people knew so many details of Kobe's life and appreciated him on and off the court.


Amber Rose was inspired by Kobe to get a face tattoo. 15

The model and actress got a face tattoo that reads "Bash Stash" because her children are named Sebastian "Bash" and Stash, but believe it or not, she got it because of Kobe Bryant. “I don’t want this to sound corny or anything but kinda after Kobe died, it made me reflect on my life,” Rose told Pop Crush during an interview. “I don’t want people to be like, ‘Oh Kobe died and you went and got a tattoo,’ but it was kinda like that.”

Kobe with a halo. 16

Joyboy, the artist who created this tattoo, shared it on March 19 and wrote: "It’s been a while. This comeback piece is very special. It’s unique, a one of one, and the first of the three giveaway Kobe tattoos I completed. Kobe inspired many people including myself. His dedication was contagious. Thank you Kobe 🙏🏾."


We love the simplicity of this one. 17

"Kobe" over a crisp rendition of the number 24--it's simple and perfect in its simplicity. We imagine it's the kind of tattoo that the person who got it will never tire of. It's also pretty self-explanatory to anyone who catches a glimpse of it.

An incredibly realistic double portrait. 18

This double portrait was created in six hours by a clearly talented tattoo artist in China. How she was able to create such detailed and realistic profile portraits of Kobe is beyond us. Absolutely amazing! We’re sure her client was very pleased.


Double portrait of a champion in monochrome. 19

Kobe was only 41 years old when he died on January 26, 2020. He didn't have a very long life at all. Gianna was only 13 years old when she died alongside her father. Her life was even shorter. Yet they both managed to pack so much living into the brief time they had. They were both champions.

Father and daughter with halos. 20

This one really pulls at our heartstrings. We still can't get over the fact that Vanessa Bryant lost both her daughter and her husband in one day. It's unimaginable. Somehow this image of Gigi and Kobe really highlights the enormity of the loss that Vanessa is going through.