Less than a week after the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter accident, the L.A. Lakers entered Los Angeles’ Staples Center to say good-bye and pay homage before their game against the Portland Trail Blazers, each player wearing both 8 and 24, the numbers Bryant wore during his 20-year tenure on the team. Courtside, two seats covered in red roses were draped in jerseys. Kobe’s, and beside it, the jersey worn by Gianna.
As part of the tribute, Usher performed “Amazing Grace” to the emotional crowd, and LeBron James spoke in remembrance of his late friend and fellow Laker, in addition to the other seven lives that were lost in Sunday’s tragedy.
“’I know at some point we will have a memorial for Kobe,” LeBron told the crowd. “But I look at this as a celebration tonight,” said James, “this is the celebration of the 20 years of the blood, sweat, and tears; the broken-down body; the getting up, the sitting down, the everything; the countless hours; the determination to be as great as he could be. Tonight, we celebrate the kid who came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we’ve seen over the past three years. Tonight is a celebration.”