LeBron James has posted a second emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant after the NBA legend’s death in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
A heartbroken James shared a clip of himself playfully embracing Bryant on the sidelines of an NBA fixture just four weeks ago.
James hailed his former Olympic team-mate with the caption ‘My brother!! I love you man!’.
He added a series of emojis including a broken heart and a snake, referring to Bryant’s nickname, the Black Mamba.
Playful: LeBron James (right) shares a moment with Kobe Bryant (left) on the sidelines of a Lakers game last month, just weeks before Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash
Tribute: In his latest message, LeBron James hailed his former Olympic team-mate as ‘my brother’ alongside a series of emojis including a mamba snake, a reference to Bryant
The clip which James shared on Instagram shows the two men embracing at the Staples Center on December 29, less than a month before Bryant’s death.
LeBron was playing for the Lakers against the Dallas Mavericks when he exchanged a playful hug and some warm words with Bryant, who was sitting on the sidelines.
Sunday’s helicopter tragedy had a particular personal meaning for James, who saw Bryant as an inspiration throughout his childhood and career.
In a poignant coincidence, James had exchanged emotional tributes with Bryant less than 24 hours before his death after passing his NBA points tally on Saturday.
The following day, James learned of Bryant’s death while the Lakers were flying home from the game in Philadelphia.
An emotional James wept on the tarmac at LAX after the team arrived back in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Sunday’s helicopter tragedy had a particular personal meaning for James, who saw Bryant as an inspiration throughout his childhood and career (they are pictured embracing in 2016)
Legends: Kobe Bryant (right) tangles with LeBron James (left) during the 2013 NBA All-Star game in Houston, Texas
In a first Instagram tribute yesterday, James hailed the two men’s ‘brotherhood’ and vowed to continue Bryant’s legacy.
‘I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA,’ he said.
‘Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have.
‘WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!
‘Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man!
‘Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me.’
The two men never played together for the Lakers, but James had a ‘dream come true’ when they lined up side-by-side in a triumphant US Olympic team.
James, 35, moved into third place in the NBA all-time rankings on Saturday after beating Bryant’s total of 33,643, and hailed the older man as an ‘inspiration’ in a warm tribute.
Team-mates: Kobe Bryant (right) and LeBron James (left) wearing US Olympic uniforms ahead of London 2012
The smoking wreckage of the helicopter which crashed on a California hillside on Sunday morning, killing all nine people on board including NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna
LeBron also celebrated Bryant with the message ‘Mamba 4 Life’ on his sneakers when he beat Kobe’s record.
Bryant praised LeBron in response for ‘continuing to take the game forward’, signing off with the words ‘much respect my brother’ in what proved to be his last tweet.
James also recalled how he first met his idol at a youth basketball camp and described how Bryant had gifted him a pair of red, white and blue Nikes.
‘I was just listening,’ James said. ‘I was just trying to soak everything up I could.
‘I remember one thing he said was that if you want to try and be great at it, and want to be one of the greats, you’ve got to put the work in.’
LeBron passed Bryant’s record in Philadelphia, where Bryant was born.
‘There’s just too much. The story is just too much,’ James said.
‘The story doesn’t make sense. Make a long story short, now I’m here in a Lakers uniform, in Philadelphia where he’s from.’
Grieving fans said the emotional tributes had become ‘hard to watch’ after Bryant’s sudden death.