GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) - There are plenty of ways to show love for your favorite athlete. Some beautiful videos and words are all over social media 36 hours after the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and several others rocked the world.
Monday night, one man in Gastonia showed up at a tattoo parlor with a particular request.
There’s a man by the name of Danny Rice and he is what you call a hardcore Kobe fan. He’s one of the millions hurting, but he said he’s getting a Kobe tattoo to ease the pain and honor one of the greatest to ever pick up a basketball.
Getting a picture of Kobe Bryant permanently placed on his leg doesn’t take away all the feelings of hurt Danny Rice is feeling.
“It’s therapeutic a little bit. It doesn’t justify what happened and make everything okay,” said Rice.
But he says it does help. His love for Kobe - also known as the Black Mamba – started in the early 2000s when he started to solidify himself in Lakers history.
“Making impossible shots, plays, playing good with others. Even when he didn’t think he had it, he just made a shot and most of the time it went in,” Rice added.
Through each prick of the skin, Rice says it’s not just athleticism that drew him towards number 21. It was the type of man Kobe was off the court, and the way of fathering his four girls is what he respected the most.
“How one-on-one he was with his daughter, and like I said I have a daughter of my own and that’s how I feel,” Rice said.
It’s clear Rice is used to an inky needle. There’s a personal story tied to each piece of artwork already on his body. The Kobe one is no different.
Even though Rice didn’t know the player personally, he says everything about Kobe’s grit and his ability to win is the reason Danny will live the rest of his life trying to apply the Black Mamba mentality to his own world.
“I chose this picture because he’s showing a lot of emotion and a lot of success,” Rice added. “You always have somebody that you want to look up to and want to be like and that’s definitely one of them,” Rice said.
The owner of the Tattoo Factory on South Columbia Street in downtown Gastonia says he expects to have more customers come in wanting to pay homage. He said the same thing happened when Dale Earnhardt died several years ago.