California rapper Kendrick Lamar paid tribute to a man who adopted his home state as his own—Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant, 37, will play his final game in a Lakers uniform—after 20 years in the league—on April 13 when the Lakers take on the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center.
Tributes poured in for the five-time NBA champion once he announced, in a letter to fans, that he will retire after the 2015-2016 season. The April 12 release of Kendrick Lamar’s “Fade to Black” is just one of many tributes to honor an athlete who played every game as if it were his last.
The Scoop Jackson-written clip opens with Lamar expressing disbelief over Bryant’s impending retirement, quizzically stating, “It’s really over, huh? Kobe really retiring? Its crazy.”
Throughout the clip, Lamar strolls through The Forum in Inglewood, Calif.—once home of Bryant and the Lakers. Fans aren taken on a walk down memory lane with some of the highlights that made Bryant a star—buzzer beaters, posterizing dunks, bravado, competition, and of course winning seasons.
“How do empires last when there’s no longer an emperor?” Kendrick asks in the ESPN tribute. “I mean, we got you, but at the same time, we got you. Your blood, your sweat, your tears, and even your DNA is placed in these L.A. concretes, man. Nothing will ever replace that or erase that. Forever great in our hearts. With that being said, know that it’s never goodbye. It’s simply respect due … forever.”
In an interview with Steve Springer for USA Today, Bryant said he is thankful for the game. “I’m not sad at all. I left no stone unturned, I gave everything to the game for 20 years in the NBA and more before that. So I feel very thankful to be able to play this game this long.”
Ticket prices to witness Bryant’s last game have increased, with tickets starting at $340.
Kobe Bryant will still appear on television screens across the country, as he’s in a new Apple commercial, titled “Father Time,” alongside actor Michael B. Jordan.
Tune in on April 13 on ESPN2 to witness Bryant’s final game.