Kobe Bryant was a giant in the sports world, and his tragic death left an impact that won't soon be forgotten by athletes, fans and media members alike.
Derek Carr grew up a California kid who idolized the Los Angeles Lakers star, watching all of Bryant's brilliance that he could. Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in January, was Carr's sports hero growing up, and the Raiders quarterback will honor Bryant by wearing an armband on his left arm this season.
"I tried my best to think,' What would be a cool way to honor Kobe?'" Carr told Raiders reporters in a Zoom conference call Tuesday. "This is a personal thing, I don't care what anyone else thinks about it. This is for me. What would be a cool way to honor Kobe Bryant? He always wore an arm sleeve on his arm. I was like, 'Well, I can't wear one on my right arm, so I'll wear one on my left arm.'
"It's really just to honor Kobe. I'm sure you'll see a lot of players doing that with number changes ... I think you'll see a lot of players just wanting to honor him, because as a kid I watched every YouTube video, I watched every game. I would tell my dad by the way he ran down the court, 'This is going to be a post-up fadeaway. He's set him up." And it would happen. I just watched everything.
"He just meant so much to me. Then, when I got to know him. Then, he followed me on Twitter, that blew my mind. That was the day of my life. Just getting to know him, talk to him, have conversations with him, just what he meant to me as an athlete. The Mamba Mentality is trying to be the best version of yourself every day. I have the big old poster in my office, my weight room now with that Mamba Mentality mantra on it. It's just a way to honor him, so I'll wear it all year. The only reason is to honor him and just what he meant to me as a kid growing up."
Carr and the Raiders are entering a new chapter after they moved from the Bay Area to Las Vegas this offseason. Now in Year 3 of Jon Gruden's rebuilding project, Carr is hoping he can build off the solid season he had last year and lead the Raiders back to the playoffs.
All while doing so with the spirit of Bryant on his left arm.
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