Novak Djokovic Honors 'Close Friend' Kobe Bryant In His Speech After US Open Win

Novak Djokovic Honors 'Close Friend' Kobe Bryant In His Speech After US Open Win

Kobe Bryant continues to be one of the biggest inspirations for athletes, no matter what sport they play.

Source: Tim Clayton - Corbis / Getty

After Novak Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev to win the Men's US Open title on Sunday, the tennis champ unzipped his hoodie to reveal a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant. The athlete wore a T-shirt featuring a photo of him and the NBA star along with the words "Mamba Forever" written around it.

According to Djokovic, this shirt is something he wanted to make happen for a long time, speaking about his experiences with Bryant before his tragic death in 2020.

"I thought of doing this T-shirt eventually, if I get the chance to win the tournament, about seven days ago," he said following his win. "I didn't share it with anyone until a few days ago when I asked my people to help me out to make this shirt. Kobe was a close friend, we chatted a lot about the winner's mentality."

Novak also wore a zip-up with a 24 patch stitched on, going on to talk about how the Lakers star guided him throughout this career.

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"When I was struggling with an injury and trying to make my comeback, work my way back to the top of the game, he was one of the people I relied on the most," he shared. He was always there for any kind of council, advice, any kind of support in the most friendly way."

"What happened a few years ago with him and his daughter passing hurt me deeply," the 24-time Grand Slam winner told the crowd at Arthur Ashe stadium. "I thought, 24 is the jersey that he wore when he became a legend of the Lakers and of world basketball. I thought it could be a nice, symbolic thing to acknowledge him for all the things he's done."

Congrats to Novak Djokovic on his big win!


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