Cam Thomas grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant to the point he begged his mother to redecorate his room to honor his idol, replete with purple-and-gold coloring and a Bryant Fathead, stickers and posters all on his wall.
As Thomas prepares to follow in Bryant's footsteps at NBA draft, the LSU standout is once again honoring the late Lakers great.
Thomas debuted a custom-made suit with a mural of Bryant on the inside lining on the red carpet prior to the draft Thursday. The expected first-round pick shared exclusive photos of the suit with Bleacher Report ahead of the draft and spoke about what honoring Bryant meant to him.
"I gravitated toward him and then once I really started understanding basketball, it was a no-brainer. I loved how he scored and his mentality. ... It was a no-brainer to gravitate toward someone like that," Thomas said.
Created by designer Michael Fletcher, the suit incorporates a tearaway to reveal the artwork, which features a mural of Bryant that highlights his NBA championships, MVP trophy and Academy Award, among other honors. The interior also includes Bryant's trademark "Mamba Mentality" phrase, along with the quote "let your light shine," which Thomas' mother said to him throughout childhood.
"I wanted to create a mural style design to honor [Bryant]. I was inspired by his family and street murals of Kobe in LA. Cam is just scratching the surface like a lottery ticket and the tearaway effect on the artwork reflects this with the painted areas. I was thinking about the 'reveal of the jacket and revealing the art' like how scratch cards reveal prizes," Fletcher told Bleacher Report.
Thomas hopes his own legacy will someday mirror Bryant's. He says he's looked to incorporate Bryant's moves into his game and believes they have a similar will to win.
"I try to take all of his moves and imitate most of his game and implement it into mine. I feel like both of our games are alike, as far as the post-ups, turnaround jumpers, footwork, our mentality. It looks similar if you really look at it; I try to do my best. He was one of the best tough shot-makers ever, and I think that's the narrative on me now—I can make shots.
"Hopefully I'm mentioned with him, on that level. I'm just trying to strive toward his level. I'm not trying to be there out the gate, but I want to strive toward that."
Thomas is projected to go as high as the late teens but will almost certainly be off the board in the mid-20s on Thursday.