Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr plans to honor his idol Kobe Bryant on the field this season.
The Raiders announced the 29-year-old quarterback will be wearing an armband this season in tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers great, who wore a ban throughout much of his career. Bryant died on Jan. 26 when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed into a Calabasas hillside, killing him, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven others.
In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Carr said he wanted to think of a way to salute Bryant that would be personal for him.
"This is a personal thing, I don't care what anyone else thinks about it," Carr said, according to NBC Sports. "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.'"
After Bryant's death, athletes across the sports world paid tribute to Bryant in many different ways. Some changed their jersey numbers to 24, which Bryant wore during the latter half of his career. Some, like LeBron James and Anthony Davis, got tattoos in remembrance of the five-time NBA champion.
For Carr, a longtime Lakers fan, wearing an armband seemed like the perfect way to commemorate his hero.
"It's really just to honor Kobe. I'm sure you'll see a lot of players doing that with number changes," Carr explained. "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," Carr continued.
As ESPN reported, after undergoing surgery in December 2016 for a season-ending injury, Bryant tweeted Carr well-wishes and a challenge to "come back better than ever."
That simple message still has a special place in Carr's heart today.
"He meant so much to me, and then when I got to know him, I got to talk to him, and then he followed me on Twitter, that blew my mind," Carr said. "That was the day of my life, so to speak."
"Just getting to know him and talk to him, have a conversation 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," he added, NBC Sports reported. "I have a big poster in my weight room now with that 'Mamba Mentality' mantra on it and it's just a way that I can honor him."
Carr said he plans to wear the sleeve "all year" once the NFL season begins in September.
The Raiders are currently scheduled to take on the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 13 and will make their debut in Las Vegas on Sept. 21 against the New Orleans Saints.
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