Raiders' Derek Carr to wear arm sleeve to honor Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant's signature arm sleeve is the inspiration for Derek Carr's tribute to him this season. Harry How/Getty Images

HENDERSON, Nev. -- Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was a fan of Kobe Bryant when the former NBA star was leading the Los Angeles Lakers on the court. And Carr befriended the basketball star after Bryant retired in 2016.

Carr will honor Bryant -- who died in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash along with eight others, including his daughter Gianna -- this season by wearing a sleeve on his left arm in games.

"This is a personal thing. I don't care what anybody else thinks about it -- this is for me," Carr said on a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday. "What would be a cool way to honor Kobe Bryant? He always wore an arm sleeve on his [right] arm -- I can't wear one on my right [passing] arm, so I was like, 'You know what, I'll wear one on my left arm.' It's really just to honor Kobe."

Carr, 29, said Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay was also going to pay tribute to the late Bryant -- who would have turned 42 on Aug. 23 -- this season and suspected other NFL players would as well.

"As a kid, I watched every YouTube video, I watched every game," Carr recalled. "I would tell my dad by the way [Kobe] ran down the court, 'Oh, this is going to be a post-up fadeaway. He set him up last time, this is a fadeaway.' And it would happen. I just watched everything.

"He meant so much to me, and then when I got to know him, I got to talk to him, and then he followed me on Twitter, that blew my mind. That was the day of my life, so to speak."

Carr laughed.

In 2016, three days after Carr suffered a season-ending broken right fibula, and 81 minutes after Carr tweeted out that surgery had gone well, Bryant tweeted at Carr.

"Just getting to know him and talk to him, have conversation with him, just what he meant to me as an athlete, the 'Mamba Mentality' is trying to be the best version of yourself every day," Carr said. "I have a big poster in my weight room now with that 'Mamba Mentality' mantra on it and it's just a way that I can honor him.

"So, I'll wear [the sleeve] all year ... to honor him and just what he meant to me as a kid growing up. That's the extent of it. I don't care about looking good unless it's for how my wife wants me to look at dinner. It's to honor Kobe and just what he meant to me."