Lakers’ Bronny James: ‘Really Important’ to Me to Honor Juice WRLD with No. 9 Jersey

Lakers’ Bronny James: ‘Really Important’ to Me to Honor Juice WRLD with No. 9 Jersey
Julia StumbaughJuly 2, 2024

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 2: Dalton Knecht and Bronny James of the Los Angeles Lakers pose for a photo during a press conference on July 2, 2024 at UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Bronny James says it was “really important” that he wear No. 9 for the Los Angeles Lakers in honor of the late rapper Juice WRLD.

“Juice has just been a big part of me keeping calm in some situations that I’ve been through,” James said Tuesday during his introductory Lakers press conference. “So yeah, just paying homage to him, especially because he passed, is a really important thing for me.”

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Bronny explains why he picked No. 9 to honor Juice WRLD 🙏

Juice WRLD had a tattoo that read “999,” which he said represented the number 666 flipped upside-down.

The rapper told MTV News in 2018 the tattoo meant “taking whatever hell, whatever bad situation or whatever struggle you’re going through and turning it into something positive” (h/t Variety’s Thania Garcia.)

The Lakers drafted James with the No. 55 pick after the 19-year-old recovered from last summer’s emergency heart surgery to make his college debut with USC in December.

James made his debut with the Trojans last December, four months after suffering cardiac arrest during a workout.

One of the personal facts listed on James’ USC bio is that Juice WRLD, who died in 2019 at 21 years old of an accidental overdose, is his favorite musical artist.

James has the number 999 in his Instagram bio as well as tattooed behind his ear, as can be seen in photos on his father LeBron James’ Instagram.

While averaging 4.8 points through 25 games and six starts for the Trojans, James wore No. 6, the same number LeBron James wore for multiple seasons with both the Miami Heat and Lakers.

That number is no longer an option for either James after the NBA retired it league-wide in August 2022 in honor of 11-time league champion Bill Russell.

At that point, LeBron James switched back to the No. 23 he wore at the beginning of his career. The Lakers star has said he wears the number in honor of Michael Jordan.

LeBron James is currently a free agent but is expected to re-sign with the Lakers to spend a fifth season as No. 23 in Los Angeles.

James is also set to play multiple seasons with the Lakers, perhaps all while wearing No. 9, after Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Tuesday that he “plans to sign a multiyear guaranteed rookie contract” in Los Angeles.

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