Fans of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant are looking for other ways to pay tribute to the former Lakers player following his death. Along with thousands of posts honoring Bryant that have poured into social media since the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that took his life, the Los Angeles Times reports that hundreds of people are flocking to local tattoo studios in the hopes of inking tribute to Bryant permanently on their skin.
"It really didn't take long for me to decide," Anthony Lozano, an EMT from Pomona, said of his decision to get a 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 called Montclair studio-artist Jose Guijosa of Killer Tattoos to get the new ink, the championship ring on his shoulder. According to Guijosa, Lozano is far from the only fan remembering Bryant in that fashion. Currently booked all the way through August, most of Gujos' clients are requesting Bryant-inspired tattoos, with those who had scheduled appointments prior to the crash now changing their designs. Some are even flying all the way from Australia seeking the designs, which include everything from Bryant's jersey numbers of 8 and 24 to his signature.
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Gujos is not the only tattoo artist seeing an influx of people hoping to get a permanent tribute to Bryant. The Los Angeles Times reports that "throughout Southern California, tattoo artists have reported booming demand for ink memorializing Bryant," with one such artist reporting that "the fervor far outweighs any other cultural moment he has seen in his nine-year career."
For Steve Butcher, a popular tattoo artist in Corona, that includes seeing close to 300 emails from potential clients seeking Bryant-themed art. The interest came after Butcher, who said that prior to Bryant's death he had only inked roughly 12 tattoos to honor the legend, shared a photo of a calf tattoo he did showing Bryant’s basketball career.
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Some studios have even run specials, with The Pushing Ink studio charging $32 for 2-by-2-inch Bryant-themed tattoo.
Although this particular means of tribute may not be for everyone, Bryant himself was a fan of tattoos. Following his 2003 rape accusation, he had a butterfly crown tattooed on his right upper arm. He also had his wife Vanessa's name near his triceps with a halo and wings. He also had the names of daughters Natalia, Gianna, who also died in the crash, and Bianka tattooed. He was scheduled to have his youngest daughter Capri's name tattooed on Feb. 5.