Denver Broncos safety P.J. Locke loved Kobe Bryant SO MUCH ... he got a tattoo of the Lakers legend on his calf -- and it's AWESOME!!
TMZ Sports has learned ... Locke idolized the Black Mamba growing up, and when the former NBA superstar died in 2020, he felt it was only right to honor him with a new tat.
So, we're told Locke hit up Joshua Butierres at Filthy Family Tattoo in Denver last month to get the Mamba ink ... and after 9 hours in the shop, the masterpiece came out great!
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The piece -- centered on Locke's left calf -- features Kobe in his #24 Lakers jersey waving. Locke also added an image of a gorilla and a pic of himself to the artwork as well.
Locke tells us the pic of himself in his Texas Longhorns gear means a lot ... as it's from one of his best college games.
And, when it comes to the gorilla, Locke explained that represents his work ethic and "competitive edge."
Locke says the reason behind combining all three images is to symbolize and remind himself that, "Bro, you a beast!!!"
Sure sounds like the Mamba Mentality to us!