Kendrick Lamar knows Kobe Bryant wanted us to be better.
The rapper and Los Angeles native performs a passionate spoken word piece in Nike's new "Mamba Forever" spot that pays tribute to the late Lakers legend. Over photos and videos of Bryant's early career, NBA highlights, inspirational interviews, as well as images of activism and the Black Lives Matter movement, Lamar repeats the motivational refrain: "Better friend. Better fighter. Better rider. Better eater. Better leader. Better generation. Better nation. Just be better. Can you do that?"
In addition to Bryant, the rapid-fire clip also shouts out athletes and activists linked to the legendary NBA star, including Serena Williams, Diana Taurasi, Richard Sherman, Megan Rapinoe, Coco Gauff, Sabrina Ionescu, Sue Bird, Simone Manuel, and his longtime friend and teammate, Pau Gasol.
There are also emotional family moments -- Lamar calls for "better firsts" over footage from the music video set where Bryant met his wife, Vanessa, and echoes "better father" multiple times over footage of Bryant with each of his four daughters. Father and daughter are also spotlighted in an especially poignant shot of 13-year-old Gianna, who was on her way toward following in her dad's basketball footsteps when they died in a tragic helicopter crash in January.
"Better me. Better you. Better us. Better forever," Lamar concludes, as Bryant declares "Mamba out," in footage from his final NBA game.
Many celebs have taken to social media this week in celebration of Bryant's birthday on Sunday, and "Mamba Day" on Monday. Lamar's piece for Nike kicks off "Mamba Week," shining the spotlight on friends and students of the late athlete, who inspired many with his "Mamba Mentality."
Another NBA legend, Allen Iverson, shared an emotional letter to Bryant via The Players' Tribune, recalling his former rival's renowned dedication to the game.
"Me and you, every single time we stepped on that floor, we were going to war. But it wasn’t an animosity thing. There was never any beef," Iverson wrote. "It was like heavyweight fighters beating the hell out of one another. And then at the bell, it’s nothing but love and respect. Greatness needs company, and we needed each other. Mike needed Prince like Prince needed Mike. Tyson needed Holyfield like Holyfield needed Tyson."
Tom Brady shared his thoughts on the basketball legend via a tribute video with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady celebrated the way Bryant carried himself as a man and an elite athlete, noting, "People are going to look at him as a great hero, someone who did things the right way, someone we can all look up to."