Sunday would have marked Kobe Bryant’s 42nd birthday if not for a tragic helicopter accident that took his life January 26, 2020. To commemorate the Black Mamba’s memory and tireless pursuit of improvement, Nike teamed up with Kendrick Lamar to produce the ad “Better: Mamba Forever.”
Career snapshots flash on-screen, depicting Kobe’s relentless work ethic across every part of his life. Kendrick’s voice can be heard narrating “Kobe wanted us to be better,” accompanied by various images of professional, amateur and hopeful athletes excelling in their sport. “Better blocker. Better sprinter. Better loser” Lamar says, at one point repeating the phrase “Better father” alongside moments shared with his late daughter, Giana Bryant.
The Black Mamba’s b-day inspired outpourings of sympathy and love from athletes around the world. Lebron James posted a heartfelt video on Instagram when players from the USA basketball team sang Happy Birthday to the life-long Laker. "Happy Bday my brother!! Miss you man!! #LongLive🐍 #GoneButNeverEverForgotten 💜💛"
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa also posted a touching birthday message to her late husband on Instagram. “Our lives feel so empty without you and Gigi. I’ve been completely broke inside. As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters days shine a little brighter,” the caption reads. “I love you for now, forever and for always.”
Kendrick Lamar’s not just lending his voice to commemorate history; he’s making history. Chart Data, a service that tracks music charts and information in real time, reports Lamar’s beloved album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City has spent 400 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart. That’s the longest charting Hip Hop album in history.