Darius Slay’s favorite athlete growing up was Kobe Bryant. Now he is playing for the basketball legend’s hometown football team.
Bryant, who starred at Lower Merion High School in the Philly suburbs, was never shy about his allegiance to the Philadelphia Eagles and even gave the team a pep talk en route to their Super Bowl run in 2017. Slay may have grown up hundreds of miles away in Georgia but that didn’t stop the cornerback from idolizing Bryant and patterning his basketball game after the Lakers legend. In fact, a young Slay played middle school and high school hoops and wore Bryant’s famed No. 24.
Slay was sent to Philadelphia earlier this week in a blockbuster trade that made him the highest-paid cornerback in football. Soon after, the 29-year-old announced that he would be wearing No. 24 for the Eagles in a tribute to his childhood idol, a man he had the pleasure of meeting in 2015.
“My number I’m rocking? I’m going with that two four, man. I’m rockin’ with two four this year,” Slay said Saturday an Instagram Live video, via ESPN. “Kobe mode. Black mamba, baby. Rest in peace to the GOAT, man. Rest in peace to one of my favorite players. … I think I’m gonna look good in 24.”
Slay: ‘That’s my dawg. That’s my boy.’
Some people never get to see their idols play, let alone meet them. Darius Slay did both things and lived to tell about them. In 2015, Slay was making his seventh trip to see Kobe Bryant play in-person and this one would be different. Bryant had agreed to meet Slay after his Lakers played the Detroit Pistons.
The football player had been waiting his whole life for this moment. Slay’s eyes were lighting up, per ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. He had Bryant sign his Lions jersey, then the basketball superstar asked Slay to send him a Lions jersey for his own collection.
“I’m in a zone right now,” Slay said, via ESPN. “That’s my dawg. That’s my boy, man. It’s great to see him out here, see him play in person, meet him in person, shake his hand. And he was kind of excited about getting my jersey. So it ain’t get no better than that.”
Bryant seemed just as excited to meet Slay.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Bryant said. “What I enjoy hearing from them is how my mentality or my approach to the game is something that has inspired them.”
Slay Talks Trash on Former Coach in Detroit
Darius Slay was itching to leave Detroit and he burned every bridge on the way out of town. The former Lions cornerback trashed head coach Matt Patricia and cited a disturbing pattern of disrespect and tough love that rubbed Slay the wrong way.
Slay had attended an offseason workout with fellow “elite” cornerbacks Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib and Xavier Rhodes in 2018 that Patricia disapproved of. Why? Well, Slay wasn’t “elite” enough to hang out with them. The coach also embarrassed Slay in front of the whole team during a film study session.
“He told me in front of the whole team, in the team meeting room, showed clips of me in practice getting a ball caught on me in practice,” Slay told the Detroit Free Press. “I posted a picture [of a wide receiver on social media], and he said, ‘Stop sucking this man’s private.'”
That incident still chaws at Slay. Hopefully, his fresh start in Philly will be smoother.
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