Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other victims of a fatal helicopter crash on Jan. 26 in Calabasas, CA were honored on Monday at STAPLES Center.
2.24.20 pic.twitter.com/IW3KBU5b2w
— STAPLES Center (@STAPLESCenter) February 24, 2020
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The “Celebration of Life” was a ticket only memorial event, and a crowd of 20,000 was expected to attend. Over 80,000 people entered the ticket lottery with tickets ranging in price from $24.02 to $224 and the proceeds will be donated to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.
Fans lined up outside Staples Center this morning waiting to get in. Staples holds just about 20,000 people and Im told every seat has been accounted for. Its going to be packed. pic.twitter.com/ok03TqyIVB
— Omar Jimenez (@OmarJimenez) February 24, 2020
The service was be streamed by various news outlets on TV and online, including the Los Angeles Times and KTLA.
The Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant – a public memorial, live from Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. https://t.co/59ILRHJnng
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) February 24, 2020
The memorial date of 2-24-20 carries significance. The ‘2’ represents Gianna’s jersey number. Bryant famously wore No. 24. And, 20 is the number of years Kobe played for the Lakers, as well as the number of years Kobe and wife Vanessa spent together.
Days after the crash, over 250,000 people visited LA Live to pay their respects, leaving thousands of items, including basketballs, shoes, flowers and even handwritten messages.
Hundreds of ticket holders were standing in line since early Monday morning, and the doors to STAPLES Center opened at 8 a.m.
They have just opened the gates for ticketed fans at Staples Center for the Kobe memorial. pic.twitter.com/oVIEX1l9dp
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) February 24, 2020
Here is a look at the scene before the memorial:
These cars are parked outside Staples Center right now: pic.twitter.com/PcI5L7SkBq
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 24, 2020
There will be a rose for every point Kobe Bryant scored in his NBA career (33,643) placed around the center stage for his memorial today at Staples Center.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 24, 2020
Lee Zeidman, President, Staples Center: “I have never seen more roses in my entire life in there. There are about 35 thousand roses that are surrounding the center stage. And we did a center stage to maximize the amount of people we could put in the building.” #KobeFarewellpic.twitter.com/BzivNgyVXu
— The Hill (@thehill) February 24, 2020
Kobe Bryants No. 8 and 24 jerseys are hanging from a construction site next to the DoubleTree in Westchester. pic.twitter.com/GPABkQqmGc
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 23, 2020
A lot of Kobe fans outside Staples Center in the Lower Merion No. 33 #KobeFarewellpic.twitter.com/SgihG1bhzT
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) February 24, 2020
We cheered for decades, have grieved for weeks and today, 2.24, we remember, honor and stand with the family of Kobe & Gianna. #KobeFarewell#KobeandGiannapic.twitter.com/hEQvOJ8PLY
— Sam Sindha (@SamSindha) February 24, 2020
Francesha Flores, of Colorado, wore something different for #kobe for this day. She didn have tickets for #kobememorial but is outside Staples anyway today. And fans are showing her love. pic.twitter.com/BVWtu7hIMu
— Ryan Carter (@ryinie) February 24, 2020
Spotted outside of Staples Center. pic.twitter.com/n1LCPxXbE1
— Emmanuel Morgan (@_EmmanuelMorgan) February 24, 2020
Im outside the Staples Center for Kobes memorial and its quite a scene pic.twitter.com/yLK87vP6Zz
— Eric Levenson (@ejleven) February 24, 2020
This miniature @STAPLESCenter is a tribute to @kobebryant and was created by Fletcher Collins who drove it from his home in North Carolina to @LALIVE with the hope of presenting it to @Lakers and Vanessa Bryant. pic.twitter.com/jPxeAsZMnW
— Kim Baldonado (@KimNBCLA) February 20, 2020
More from inside the memorial:
Inside Staples, before the Kobe Bryant memorial pic.twitter.com/ifs1M0V9Er
— Bill Reiter (@sportsreiter) February 24, 2020
Everyone in attendance at the Staples Center today will receive a booklet with Bryant family photos
(via @kylegoon)pic.twitter.com/Qa03uvNuSM
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) February 24, 2020
Upon entry of the Staples Center for the memorial service of Kobe Bryant, guests are given four pieces of swag for the event. #KobeFarewell (via @KelleyLCarter) pic.twitter.com/657wm9lV56
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) February 24, 2020
Front and back the Kobe and Gianna Celebration of Life program and the front and back of the commemorative ticket. pic.twitter.com/s4LfagEduI
— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) February 24, 2020
Kobe Bryant & Gianna Bryants memorial booklet at the Staples Center | HeyNatalia pic.twitter.com/xLYq2k8jwM
— REVOLT TV (@revolttv) February 24, 2020
backstage at the Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna pic.twitter.com/2IbkGSKhLA
— ellen k (@officialellenk) February 24, 2020
The who’s who of the sports and entertainment world were on-hand to celebrate Bryant:
Spotted down in the lower bowl: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver giving a warm embrace to Steve Nash. As @mcten saw with his better eyes, Magic Johnson and Brian Shaw also here
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 24, 2020
Lots of Celtics in attendance at todays Kobe Bryant memorial. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis, among others, have shared photos of their tickets. pic.twitter.com/VwOD33svqn
— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) February 24, 2020
Others that are here: Bill Russell, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kyrie Irving, Elgin Baylor, AC Green
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 24, 2020
A lot of legends are here at the Kobe and GiGi Memorial
(via 2cooltobl0g/IG, x_vilmaa_x/IG) pic.twitter.com/xD7EfPEghX
— Overtime (@overtime) February 24, 2020
The celebration of life opened with a tribute from Beyonce:
Beyoncé opens the memorial for Kobe & Gigi Bryant. pic.twitter.com/hoeYfRyTCM
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) February 24, 2020
@Beyonce pays tribute to Kobe and Gigi Bryant with a couple of his favorite songs pic.twitter.com/HIfTfWmtlS
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) February 24, 2020
Jimmy Kimmel, who oversaw the entire ceremony, followed:
“It seems to me that all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them and for the time we have left with each other.”@jimmykimmel gives an emotional speech. pic.twitter.com/B6nrmF9QZ2
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) February 24, 2020
Then, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother Vanessa Bryant took the stage:
Vanessa Bryant remembers Gigi: “There were a few occasions where…I thought she had left for school without saying good-bye. I’d text and say ‘No kiss?’ And Gianna would reply with, ‘Mama I kissed you, but you were asleep and I didn’t want to wake you.'” https://t.co/mKWYj46egvpic.twitter.com/tvTFD8j2lX
— ABC News (@ABC) February 24, 2020
“SHE WAS ONE OF MY VERY BEST FRIENDS.”
Vanessa Bryant is eulogizing her Gigi.
Can you even imagine? What courage.#KobeFarewell#kobememorial#KobeandGiannapic.twitter.com/uth9AIFTbQ
— Austin Kellerman (@AustinKellerman) February 24, 2020
“Gigi would have easily become the best player in the WNBA.”
Vanessa Bryant remembers her daughter, Gianna. pic.twitter.com/9tv3w8wL6a
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 24, 2020
Vanessa Bryant shares sweet memories of her daughter Gianna during the memorial. #KobeFarewellpic.twitter.com/gIYllV0OIP
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) February 24, 2020
Vanessa: “She had Kobe’s ability to listen to a song and have all of the lyrics memorized after listening to it a couple of times.” #KobeFarewell
— Herb Scribner (@HerbScribner) February 24, 2020
“I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband and father he was.”
Vanessa Bryant remembers Kobe. pic.twitter.com/GpSke07SGS
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) February 24, 2020
“He was my everything. Kobe and I have been together since I was 17 and a half years old. He was the most amazing husband.” – Vanessa Bryant #kobememorialpic.twitter.com/Wrglf4NbxW
— TV One (@tvonetv) February 24, 2020
Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words … We really had an amazing love story. Two perfectly imperfect people…
Vanessa Bryant#KobeFarewellpic.twitter.com/XFtFWMWWL4
— The Ringer (@ringer) February 24, 2020
“God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other, he had to bring them home to have them together.” Watch Vanessa Bryant’s emotional eulogy #KobeFarewellhttps://t.co/ww51ZxTqznpic.twitter.com/sNZ2fSAWIr
— Variety (@Variety) February 24, 2020
“Kobe, take care of our Gigi. I’ve got Natalia, Bianka and Capri. We’re still the best team.” Vanessa Bryant #KobeFarewellpic.twitter.com/iZupHzdCnf
— Complex (@Complex) February 24, 2020
The great Michael Jordan was on-hand, not only to speak, but offer his support to Vanessa:
Michael Jordan helped Vanessa Bryant off the stage after her emotional eulogy. pic.twitter.com/bETfLmtjG6
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) February 24, 2020
She was the epitome of strength:
The strength Vanessa Bryant just showed is remarkable. #KobeFarewell
— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) February 24, 2020
Vanessa Bryant’s strength right now is immeasurable.
— Jorge Sedano (@Sedano) February 24, 2020
The grace and poise of Vanesssa Bryant is beyond admirable. You see why Kobe loved and adore her. He couldnt do what he did without her strength. #KobeFarewell
— Annie Apple (@SurvivinAmerica) February 24, 2020
This is why I say mothers are stronger than any fighter. Im here choking up listening to Vanessa Bryant stay composed & bravely say good bye to Kobe & Gigi. #KobeMemorial
— Sergio Mora (@TheLatinSnake_) February 24, 2020
The strength of this woman …#KobeFarewellpic.twitter.com/fjoQWJVmOK
— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) February 24, 2020
Other speakers included WNBA legend Diana Taurasi, Oregon Ducks superstar guard Sabrina Ionescu, Connecticut coaching legend Geno Auriemma, and Kobe’s best friend and former agent Rob Pelinka.
Diana Taurasi remembers her friends, Kobe and Gigipic.twitter.com/xImvU0Ioro
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) February 24, 2020
Her skill was undeniable at an early age. I mean, who has a turn-away fadeaway jumper at 11?
Diana Taurasi on Gigi. @wslampic.twitter.com/NmgviONTLP
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) February 24, 2020
“I still text him even though he’s not here. Thank you for everything, the rest is for you. Rest easy my guy.”@sabrina_i20 pays tribute to Kobe and Gigi Bryant. pic.twitter.com/MkbJqMncJI
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) February 24, 2020
He was giving me the blueprint. He was giving Gigi the same blueprint.
Sabrina Ionescu on Kobe and Gianna Bryant. pic.twitter.com/2nBSuCZUuf
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 24, 2020
The @OregonWBB team watching @sabrina_i20 speak at the Kobe Bryant memorial, right after their shootaround. pic.twitter.com/vexIgDQiTj
— Rebecca Lobo (@RebeccaLobo) February 24, 2020
Loving the WBB star power (Diana Taurasi, Sabrina Ionescu) represented at the Bryants memorial. The womens game is often excluded form conversations about the basketball community as a whole, but Gianna & Kobe showed us that greatness recognizes greatness regardless of gender.
— Danielle Lerner (@danielle_lerner) February 24, 2020
Gianna passed it when she was open, I thought shes not listening to her father.
Geno Auriemma shares some of his favorite memories of Gigi and Kobe.pic.twitter.com/oL3JpUew6e
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) February 24, 2020
There are some amazing women in this room, arent there? -Geno Auriemma u conn womens coach. I hear as a dad not a coach#KobeMemorial#Mambacita
— Richard Winton (@LAcrimes) February 24, 2020
Kobe lived to make other peoples lives better.
Rob Pelinka remembers his friend, Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/URIc9s8l3p
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 24, 2020
Next, Alicia Keys performed one of Kobe and Vanessa’s favorite songs, Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”:
Alicia Keys performs her rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata at Kobe & Gianna’s Celebration of Life. pic.twitter.com/yzPY3lakWk
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 24, 2020
Jordan followed Keys:
As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.
Michael Jordan on Kobe Bryant #KobeFarewellpic.twitter.com/9hLiPouLMd
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) February 24, 2020
He made a few jokes through tears:
“Im gonna have to look at another crying meme” -Michael Jordan pic.twitter.com/7SDIncQK4Z
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) February 24, 2020
needed dat MJ
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) February 24, 2020
Jordan finished with the sincerest of words:
“When Kobe died, a piece of me died. A piece of you died — or you wouldn’t be here. I promise that I had a little brother that I tried to help every way I could. Please rest in peace, little brother.” — Michael Jordan, in his greatest public speech ever. #KobeFarewell
— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) February 24, 2020
Kobe’s most famous teammate Shaquille O’Neal next took the stage to honor Bryant:
“I said ‘Kobe, there’s no I in team.’ and he said ‘I know, but there’s an M-E in that m***********'”@shaq tells the funny story of when he really gained respect for Kobe. pic.twitter.com/VW2CjrWyfb
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) February 24, 2020
“I’ll be sure to teach Natalia, Bianka and baby Capri all your moves …and I promise I will not teach them my free throw techniques.”-Shaq#KobeFarewell#kobememorial
— Erin Coscarelli (@erincoscarelli) February 24, 2020
The memorial finished with chants of “Kobe” echoing throughout STAPLES Center:
The public memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna ends with shouts of “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!” from the crowd at the Staples Center. https://t.co/J6BEDMVbfDpic.twitter.com/2TiFChjei8
— ABC News (@ABC) February 24, 2020
Others took to social media to express their sentiments:
An absolutely beautiful goodbye to beautiful souls #KobeFarewell Such courage, bravery and grace shown by Vanessa. Everyone spoke with such poise and emotion. A fitting tribute to a once in a generation player and man.
— Frankie Kazarian (@FrankieKazarian) February 24, 2020
24-8-2, that was incredible #KobeFarewell
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) February 24, 2020
Such a beautiful service celebrating the lives of Kobe and Gianna. Our love to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family. Rest in peace, Kobe and Gigi. #KobeFarewell
— Complex (@Complex) February 24, 2020
Incredible. Moved beyond words today by this all. Again. #KobeFarewell
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) February 24, 2020
Several locations around the city broadcasted the memorial:
Plenty of free seating at @ocgreatpark for 10 a.m. live broadcast of the @STAPLESCenter tribute to #KobeBryant. The soccer stadium has seating for 5,000 people. pic.twitter.com/mYvx8OpvJR
— Craig Fiegener (@CraigNews3LV) February 24, 2020
The ‘Celebration of Life’ also went beyond the walls of STAPLES.
In honor of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and the seven other lives lost on Jan. 26, Metro will be pausing bus and rail operations for 24 seconds at 8:24 a.m. pic.twitter.com/nGPwjuaoQG
— LA Metro (@metrolosangeles) February 24, 2020
Outside of a gas station in the Valley. #KobeFarewellpic.twitter.com/dZmYvMVgeu
— KINSEY SCHOFIELD (@kinseyschofield) February 24, 2020
There are tons of photos of Kobe, Gianna and the rest of the Bryant family at Disneyland flashing on screen as we wait for things to start.
A story on why they’ll always be remembered there, and what Kobe, the Disneyland dad was likehttps://t.co/6XtoEYZBPr
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) February 24, 2020
As fans prepare to celebrate the lives of Kobe & Gianna Bryant tomorrow at @STAPLESCenter this mural is nearing completion today at Social Kicthen + Craft Bar in Costa Mesa, honoring all 9 victims. Amazing work by Andaluz. | Follow @ABC7 Monday for complete coverage! pic.twitter.com/yfUvUXVjCP
— Marc Cota-Robles (@abc7marccr) February 23, 2020
#MambaForever
(via @nike)pic.twitter.com/Typ4eaw9HW
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) February 24, 2020