On Jan. 31, five days after Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, the Lakers hosted the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center. It was their first game since Bryant’s death.
One of my fondest memories from covering that emotional game was seeing Quinn Cook rap every word of “Kobe Bryant” by Lil Wayne during warmups. The track, which was released the day the Lakers and Orlando Magic played Game 1 of the 2009 NBA Finals, has been an anthem for those that bleed purple and gold for over a decade — and something about the way Cook enthusiastically rapped every word while wearing a Kobe jersey made me realize how big of a fan he was. It reminded me of myself when I was younger.
Lil Wayne performed a new version of “Kobe Bryant” at the BET Awards on Sunday, and it included a new verse that paid tribute to Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, and his late daughter, Gianna:
The 2020 version also includes a verse that talks about Bryant rupturing his Achilles and scoring 60 points in his final game with the Lakers. All in all, it was a touching tribute to one of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of basketball sneakers by one of the greatest rappers to ever get behind a microphone. It’s like Weezy said:
“Kobe doin’ work
Two four on my shirt
He the greatest on the court
And I’m the greatest on the verse.”
Hopefully the next generation of Lakers fans will rap this version of “Kobe Bryant” in their purple and gold jerseys for years to come.