Bronny James is honoring late rapper Juice WRLD as he joins the Los Angeles Lakers. The 19-year-old chose No. 9 for his official jersey, which he said is a source of motivation on the court.

“Juice [WRLD] has just been a big part of me keeping calm in situations that I’ve been through,” James said during an introductory press conference on July 2, per Vibe. “Just paying homage to him, especially because he passed. It’s a really important thing for me.”

The rapper died in 2019 of an accidental oxycodone and codeine overdose. He touted the No. 9 as a tattoo and throughout his music career as “taking whatever hell, whatever bad situation or whatever struggle you’re going through and turning it into something positive,” he told MTV News in 2018.

James has been subject to criticism since it was announced he would be joining the Lakers. Coach JJ Redick and VP of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka defended their decision to work with the basketball star.

“Rob and I did not give Bronny anything,” Redick said on July 2, according to ESPN. “Bronny has earned this. … Bronny has earned this through hard work.”

To James, the scrutiny is nothing out of the ordinary. He says he has been in the public eye his whole life as the son of LeBron James.

“I’ve already seen it on social media and stuff, and the internet and stuff and talking about that I might not deserve an opportunity,” he said, according to ESPN. “But I’ve been dealing with stuff like this my whole life. So it’s nothing different, but it’s more amplified, for sure. But I’ll get through it.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Los Angeles Lakers (@lakers)

The Lakers and Bronny’s representative, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, have reportedly been discussing a multiyear contract that would ensure him a roster spot with the Lakers, ESPN reported. For now, he’s set to appear in the California Classic Summer League, starting July 6. He will also play in the California Classic and Las Vegas Summer League this month.