On Jan. 26, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in the hills of Calabasas, California. This incident stunned fans around the world and led to countless tributes in honor of the victims. Some created murals, others delivered flowers to Staples Center, and some headed to tattoo parlors.
Following Bryant's death, there was an excess of fans asking for ink so they could honor the late NBA icon. The Los Angeles Times even reported that hundreds of fans had flocked to Southern California parlors to get work done. Thousands wanted to showcase their support for Bryant, as well as Gianna, and they wanted to do so in the most permanent way possible. Some fans even flew from Australia to Los Angeles to get the work done.
"It really didn't take long for me to decide," Anthony Lozano, an EMT from Pomona, said of his decision to get a championship ring tattoo honoring Bryant. "It's a token of respect for how he affected me and so many other people. It's an honor to put this on my body."
Lozano was only one of the many fans that immortalized the Los Angeles Lakers star on his body. Here are some other examples of stunning Bryant tattoos.
Tattoo artist Steve Butcher has started on a Kobe Bryant timeline leg for a customer. His high schools days are done (Instagram/Steve Butcher Tattoos) pic.twitter.com/18dZAFlSy7— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 2, 2020
There were many fans that wanted to show their support for Bryant with tattoos, and they did so by focusing on his professional career. After all, this was the time in his life where the 20-year veteran became a household name.
One fan, however, wanted to pay tribute to Bryant in a different way. This resulted in a leg sleeve referencing different parts of the late NBA icon's life. The fan was not identified, but they clearly wanted to honor Bryant.
Steven Nelson, a cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was born in Georgia and attended college at Oregon State University. However, he was one of the many that looked up to Bryant due to his accomplishments on the court and his impact outside of the arena.
Nelson paid tribute to Bryant with a tattoo following the Jan. 26 helicopter crash. The cornerback went with an iconic image from the late NBA icon's career, one that showed Bryant biting down on his jersey.
Kobe Bryant tattoo by © Steve Butcher pic.twitter.com/pbYN23ZWb3— World Tattoo Gallery (@worldtattooG) March 11, 2020
Many of the Bryant tribute tattoos were black and white and showed the late NBA icon standing alone. Others were far more colorful and featured intricate details, but there was one that included a surprising level of depth.
Steve Butcher, a tattoo artist in Southern California, has been the go-to for Bryant tributes in the weeks following the helicopter crash. He has a multitude of pieces displayed on his Instagram account, all of which feature stunning levels of detail.
New tattoo dedicated to the GOAT 🐐. R.I.P legend. 🙏🏻. #kobe #kobebryant #kobebryant24 #tattoo #kobetattoo #kobebryanttattoo #youngbeebe #beebe #kobe24 #ripkobe #ripkobebryant pic.twitter.com/mXbKE0IESV— Thomas Beebe ツ (@Mr_Beebe) March 29, 2020
With so many fans opting to immortalize Bryant with tattoos following his death, there were many similar designs surfacing on social media. The image of the late NBA icon biting down on his jersey was a particularly popular choice.
One fan, however, paid tribute to Bryant with a tattoo that focused on the early portions of his career. This individual went with a design that showed Bryant dunking. He had hair and was wearing the No. 8 jersey that has since been retired.
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As many of the Bryant tribute tattoos showed, the most attention-grabbing pieces are those that have a staggering amount of detail. These tattoos are the ones that can only be done by a few select artists.
One of Butcher's pieces proved this point with a mix of full color and black and white elements. He tattooed an image from one of Bryant's games against the Brooklyn Nets. The late NBA icon had just slammed down a dunk despite multiple defenders being in his way.
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Bryant made a name for himself as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, but he was actually drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. He was immediately sent to Southern California as part of a trade.
Butcher paid tribute to the draft-day trade with a recent tribute tattoo on one of his clients. This image showed Bryant holding up his No. 8 jersey and smiling for the camera.
Bryant created a multitude of fans throughout his entire career, which resulted in even more tattoos honoring his impact on the NBA. However, he was not the only victim honored following the Jan. 26 crash.
One fan went a different route with their tribute ink. They had a portrait done that featured Bryant and Gianna sitting side-by-side and smiling broadly. Bryant's wife, Vanessa, even posted a photo of the tattoo on her Instagram.
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