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BET Awards 2020

Source: BET Awards 2020 / Getty

Lil Wayne performed at the 2020 BET Awards and used his performance to pay homage to the late Kobe Bryant.

For many years hip hop and sports –more specifically basketball– have had very close ties. So when Kobe tragically passed five months ago in a helicopter accident alongside his daughter, it was no surprise to see so many in the hip hop community support the Bryant family and mourn Kobe as a family man and legendary basketball player. The hip hop community holds Mamba Mentality in high regard, and it’s commonplace to hear Kobe’s names dropped in plenty of rap songs throughout the last twenty years.

Back in 2009, at the height of his fame, Lil Wayne dedicated an entire song to Kobe Bryant, who was at the height of the basketball world at the time. That was the song he performed last night at the BET Awards. The performance came against a black backdrop with Kobe’s name, and the number 24 proudly lit up.

“This is Black power status/ Two fingers for the Mambacita/ I’m screamin’ Black Mamba matters,” Lil Wayne sang.

Lil Wayne was inspired by Kobe’s dazzling performance in game six of the 2009 Western Conference finals when Kobe scored 35 points and dished out 10 assists to secure their place in the NBA finals. The song would elevate to new heights the next week when the Kobe led the Lakers to their fourth championship title in nine years. The Lakers would go on to win the championship in 2010 as well.

Rest In Peace Kobe and Gianna Bryant. Wayne even ended the performance with the statement, “Rest in power/ Let’s hope for peace/ Black lives matter, facts.” Those words are a bit different than how he felt back in May when he said that Black people should stop blaming “everyone with a badge” and should instead blame ourselves for not doing enough.