It may be a cliche but it’s a cliche for a reason; basketball and rap music are inextricably linked, as both the sport and the art form rose to prominence around the same time, in the same neighborhoods where a rap battle could break out just as easily as a game of 21 — and even the “uniforms” are the same. With the death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, that connection has been highlighted by the outpouring of grief, condolences, and expressions of gratitude from hip-hop’s hoop heads toward the late basketball legend.
Naturally, many of the responses reference Kobe’s effect on pop culture, from many rappers’ early days spent playing basketball for their school teams or backstage on tour, gleefully shouting out “Kobe!” as they shot trash can jumpers or referenced him in their rhymes. Others pointed out how quickly and easily life can end, which is a theme many rappers display an intimate familiarity with in their music.
Many simply couldn’t think of anything to say, struck speechless by the suddenness of Kobe’s death and its impact, managing only simple expressions of disbelief. Then there’s NBA player and rapper Damian Lillard, whose path to dual-discipline stardom was paved by Kobe’s early attempts at a rap career — which were far better than anyone ever gave him credit for.
Check out more reactions from the hip-hop world below.
???????????????????? Kobe this cant be real!!!
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) January 26, 2020
We’re never ready for this type of news RIP Kobe Bryant ????????
— Swae Lee Lee Swae (@SwaeLee) January 26, 2020
WE LOVE YOU KOBE!!! PRAYERS FOR YOUR FAMILY ????????????
— EarthGang #MIRRORLAND IS OUT NOW! STREAM IT! (@EarthGang) January 26, 2020
I’m literally sitting here balling man
— REASON TDE (@reasonTDE) January 26, 2020
I had Kobe Bryant picture on my wall as a kid….I ain’t come up On Michael Jordan I wanted To b Like Kobe????Rip to one of the greats????
— Polo.G???? (@Polo_Capalot) January 26, 2020
Child Hood Was Filled With Kobe Man And I Just Made A Joke About u. Wish I Could’ve Met u FR ???????????????????? #NLE????
— NLE Choppa (@Nlechoppa1) January 26, 2020
man, we really grew up yelling “KOBE!” when we put up jump shots. Superhero! Such a tragic loss. RIP
— Bas (@Bas) January 26, 2020
RIP KOBE , SO SAD , SUCH A SAD DAY N SAD NEWS , WE LOVE U
— LORD FLACKO JODYE II (@asvpxrocky) January 26, 2020
Some of the artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.