LeBron James is not willing to fuel the speculation surrounding whether or not he attended Kobe Bryant’s memorial service. The Los Angeles Laker star did not confirm nor deny whether or not he went to the memorial for the late basketball legend and his daughter Gianna. He appeared notably absent from the service on February 24, as cameras panned over to other celebrities, basketball stars, and several of LeBron’s teammates.
LeBron, 35, spoke to the Los Angeles Times on February 25 during shooting practice about whether or not he went to the celebration of life for his close friend. "Like I said, man, it's just... I respect your question, for sure," he said. "It was very emotional, very emotional day, very tough day for myself, for my family, for everyone involved."
The NBA star also praised Vanessa Bryant for her touching tribute to her late husband. "The one thing I can come out of this saying is how strong and how bold and how powerful Vanessa is to stand up there the way she did, to give the speech the way she gave that speech. I commend her,” he gushed.
“My heart is with her family still, with his three daughters that's still here, with his wife, with his mom and dad, his sister,” LeBron continued. “It was just a very difficult day. Obviously celebration, but it was a difficult day for all of us. I'd appreciate it if we can move on tonight. That would be great.”
Although LeBron never expects to get “closure” from the tragedy, he does want to continue Kobe’s mission as an athlete and a father. "I mean," explained, "we continue to live on his legacy and continue to have our hearts heavy with both sadness and with happiness for his family that are still here. So, it's not a closure. But it was a celebration, which was well received from not only the Laker faithful, not only the family here, but everybody around the world."
When the Los Angeles Lakers played their first game since Kobe’s passing on January 31, LeBron gave a moving speech about his former teammate’s impact. “As I look around the arena, we’re all grieving,” LeBron began. “Everybody that’s here, this is really truly a family … now, I know at some point we will have a memorial for Kobe … but I look at this as a celebration tonight. This is a celebration of the blood, sweat, and tears … the determination to be as great as he could be.”
He continued, "The fact that I'm here means so much to me. I want to continue on with my teammates to continue his legacy, not only for this year but as long as we get to play the game of basketball that we love because that's what Kobe Bryant would want."
After Kobe’s passing, LeBron got a tattoo to honor his idol. The new ink was a black mamba snake with the words “Mamba 4 Life” underneath it.