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Tennis star Novak Djokovic honors Kobe Bryant after winning 24th Grand Slam title

Djokovic follows his thrilling win at the U.S. Open, his 24th Grand Slam title, with a tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

Following his win at the U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic reveals a T-shirt honoring the late Kobe Bryant.

Immediately after winning his 24th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open on Sunday night, tennis superstar Novak Djokovic honored the memory of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant by donning a shirt featuring a picture of him and Bryant, with the words “Mamba Forever.” On the back in purple was the No. 24, one of two numbers Bryant wore during his Hall of Fame career.

“I thought, 24 is the jersey he wore when he became a legend of the Lakers and world basketball,” Djokovic said. “So I thought it could be a nice, symbolic thing to acknowledge him.”

Djokovic was friends with Bryant, whose death — along with that of his daughter, Gianna — in a 2020 helicopter crash shook the sports world. The former Lakers superstar is often venerated by current greats of various sports, with Djokovic continuing that tradition after his latest triumph.

“Kobe was a close friend,” Djokovic said. “We chatted a lot about the winner’s mentality when I was struggling with the injury and trying to make my comeback, work my way back to the top of the game. He was one of the people that I rely on the most. He was always there for any kind of counsel, advice, any kind of support in a most friendly way.

Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, congratulated Djokovic with an Instagram post, saying that “Real recognize Real” with the hashtag MambaMentality.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.