Musician Lil Wayne paid tribute to Lakers basketball legend Kobe Bryant with a performance of his 2009 track Kobe Bryant at the BET Awards Sunday night.
“I want to be the best, that’s why I play the game.” – Kobe Bryant
Bryant explained the backstory of the song in a 2019 podcast appearance, saying Lil Wayne contacted him after Game 6 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, when Bryant scored 35 points and added 10 assists to close out the series. Bryant said Lil Wayne told him the performance motivated him.
“Wayne was like, ‘I’ma do a song. Is it OK, can I do a song?’ I was like, ‘All right cool.’ I just thought he was BS-ing or whatever. Before the Boston Celtics series, he sends me the song and I was like, ‘Oh, you were serious.’ OK, that’s awesome” said Bryant.
The awards were handed out virtually due to the COVID-19 epidemic, with Lil Wayne performing the number following In Memorium segment which featured Bryant. The song featured footage of the legendary NBA star performing on the court.
“This is Black power status/ Two fingers for the Mambacita/ I’m screamin’ Black Mamba matters,” Lil Wayne sang.
“My heart goes out to Vanessa and the whole Black Mamba family” Wayne added to the song, speaking to Bryant’s wife, Vanessa. He ended with, “Rest in power/ Let’s hope for peace/ Black lives matter, facts.”
The video began with Bryant speaking in voiceover saying, “I want to be the best, that’s why I play the game.” Lil Wayne ended the tribute, leaving Bryant to have the last word. The tribute ended with Bryant saying farewell in his uniform to Lakers fans: “Mamba out.”
The BET Awards tweeted out the video, saying “RIP Kobe.” Check out tribute below: