The Los Angeles Lakers returned to practice with heavy hearts. Wednesday marked the first time the team took the court since last Saturday.
Obviously, it has been a heart-wrenching, emotional roller-coaster all week as Lakers players tried to cope with the loss of Kobe Bryant. The Laker legend and current star LeBron James had built a strong bond and James moved ahead of Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list on the night before the crash.
James and the Lakers will play in their first game since Bryant’s tragic helicopter accident on Jan. 31 when they host the Trail Blazers at Staples Center. On Thursday, James and teammate Anthony Davis posted Instagram stories where they appeared to be getting new ink at a Los Angeles tattoo shop.
In the video, famed tattoo artist Vanessa Aurelia can be seen holding a purple-clad tattoo machine and stenciling an ornate design on James’ right thigh and on Davis’ right thigh. A close-up of James’ leg seems to show the outline of a snake and the number two, appearing to potentially be an unfinished tribute to the Black Mamba’s legendary No. 24.
Aurelia wrote on Instagram: King James my man … until next time … ball out Friday.
The artist wasn’t finished James’ tattoo so the assumption here is the number four was her next step. Davis’ tattoo is a bit harder to decipher but considering they are on the same part of the body, there is a good chance they got matching Kobe designs. TMZ Sports zoomed in on James’ tattoo during a Lakers’ workout.
Aurelia: Tattoo Artist to the Hollywood Stars
Vanessa Aurelia has 36.5M followers on Instagram, including a colorful collection of sports-specific artwork. The Riverside, California-based tattoo artist has intricate designs featuring everything from Julian Edelman and Tom Brady to Jesus Christ, Nipsey Hussle and much more.
One thing is clear, it’s apparent she is very well-respected and liked in the industry. Two days ago, Aurelia posted a detailed Kobe Bryant leg tattoo that showed the Lakers legend smiling and sporting a backwards cap with his retired No. 8 and No. 24 highlighted above him. Underneath, Bryant was shown entering the gates of heaven with a halo and angel wings.
Aurelia wrote: WE all know Kobe touched many lives, and taught more than just basketball. His work ethic was out of the world, his talent was uncomparable, and his smile lit up a room. We lost a LEGEND.
LeBron James Boasts 23 Tattoos on His Body
That’s right. LeBron James has long been known for his affinity for body art. He has an estimated 23 tattoos all over his body, each one representing a special meaning or memory. It’s no stretch to think he wouldn’t immediately add an ink-stained tribute to Kobe Bryant.
Perhaps James’ most famous tattoo is the one reading “Chosen 1” running from shoulder blade to shoulder blade across his back. The meaning stems from a 2002 Sports Illustrated story that deemed James as “The Chosen One” and painted him as the heir apparent to Michael Jordan, per Sports Illustrated. James was only a high school junior at the time.
It’s 10 p.m. on the last night of January, and the moment feels charged, even a little historic. Remember that photograph of a teenaged Bill Clinton meeting JFK? Same vibe. Here, together, are His Airness and King James, the 38-year-old master and the 17-year-old prodigy, the best of all time and the high school junior whom some people–from drooling NBA general managers to warring shoe company execs to awestruck fans–believe could be the Air Apparent.
He has the word “Witness” on his right calf, an ode to one of his best-known Nike ad campaigns. The Lakers star also has the 330 stenciled on his right forearm to represent his hometown of Akron’s area code, as well as a “Gloria” tattoo in honor of his mother. The words “Family” and “Loyalty” line either side of his torso and ribs.