Celebrating Kobe Bryant
Scenes from Los Angeles, celebrating the life and career of Kobe Bryant
Editor’s note: We will update this story throughout the day as fans, athletes, coaches and friends gather at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to celebrate the life of Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant’s legacy will never fade
As the crowd filed out of Staples Center, people hugged each other. Countless “I love you’s” were exchanged. Strangers comforted strangers,their only common bond Kobe Bryant. Tears were dropped, but they gave way to smiles. Perhaps that was the entire point of an emotionally taxing occasion. That life goes on despite even the worst of tragedies. Los Angeles will never be the same. But Los Angeles is still standing. — Justin Tinsley
Los Angeles must cry collectively for Nipsey, Kobe and Gianna
“It’s significant that both guys left their imprint. Both guys, when they left us, it was like a family member died. I cried like my mama died.”
Sometimes all you can do is paint your way through the pain. Just ask Mohammed Mubarak, a native Los Angeleno and artist. Near the corner of Francisco Street and Olympic Boulevard, parallel to the downtown Courtyard Marriott, people stop and take pictures of his vivid and poignant paintings of the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna and the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.
“Losing Nipsey then losing Gianna and Kobe is like a double whammy. A double heartbreak. A double tragedy,” Mubarak said. “I cried like my mother died for all three of them. They did so much in such a short time of their life. Nipsey was 33. Kobe was 41. Gianna was 13. And look at how people are coming out to salute what they did. That speaks volumes.” – Justin Tinsley
“Kobe was LA. He left a big imprint on the city. Once he sat down, it wasn’t the same anymore. To lose him like we did, it was tough. I just had to do this. I just had to pay my respect, this is how I did it.” pic.twitter.com/tiOeJFmhAQ
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) February 24, 2020
Beyonce opens up memorial
‘I got my angel now’
Standing at the tip of the black stage stood Beyoncé, a close friend of the Bryant family. The superstar was dressed in a gold pantsuit and wearing one of the pins that guests at the day’s memorial service were given as they walked in, and she belted out “XO.”
“I’m here because I loved Kobe and this is one of my favorite songs,” Beyoncé said before starting over and inviting everyone to join in.
Beyoncé sang through very visible tears as she cued up her next song, “Halo,” clutching her heart as she sang the words, “I got my angel now.”
At the conclusion of the song, she looked to the sky. In the front row, Vanessa Bryant nodded her head while tears fell. – Kelley L. Carter
Staples Center set-up
While guests begin piling in for the memorial, Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky”
While guests begin piling in for the memorial, Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky” is playing. At the center of the court is an elevated stage that is trimmed with dark red roses and white candles. The program book is filled with pictures, including some never before seen images of Bryant, his wife and daughters dressed for Halloween. Hanging from the ceiling where most nights fans are used to seeing stats of their favorite players or the game are images flashing of Gianna, Kobe and Vanessa, trips of the family to a Disney park, basketball practice photos and selfies. Some people inside the memorial service are even wearing rare Kobe Bryant jerseys. – Kelley L. Carter
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) February 24, 2020
PELICANS TO PAY RESPECT TO Kobe
“It’s going to be hard. But I just keep thinking in my head it’s a celebration. And I just want be as strong as can humanly possibly be.” – Swin Cash
About three to four players from the New Orleans Pelicans, as well as head coach Alvin Gentry, general manager Trajan Langdon, vice president of business operations and team development Swin Cash are expected to attend the memorial for the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, Monday morning at Staples Center in Los Angeles, The Undefeated has learned.
The Pelicans flew to Los Angeles late Sunday and are staying at a hotel close to the memorial at Staples Center. Gentry told The Undefeated he gave his players the option to attend the memorial. Cash was able to get limited seating space for the memorial for the Pelicans through the Bryant family. New Orleans plays Bryant’s former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, at Staples Center on Tuesday.
Pelicans guard JJ Redick said he thought it would be too emotional to attend. Former Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, a 2020 NBA All-Star with the Pelicans, said he would not be attending. Former Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, now with the Pelicans, said he was undecided. Zion Williamson also didn’t sound like he is comfortable attending.
“I feel like it’s going to be too much for me, to be honest. I don’t know if I will be able to do it,” Williamson said after the Pelicans’ 115-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.
“I don’t want to force anybody to go, but I’m definitely going to go,” Gentry said. “I’m just ecstatic that we can be there to have an opportunity to go. For me, it was somebody I really, really respected from a work ethic standpoint and what the game meant to him. I wish everybody approached the game like he did from the standpoint of the success that he had. I don’t know if anyone has any idea how hard he worked and the effort that he gave to be who he was.
“He had a lot of natural ability. But there are a lot of guys with natural ability. How do you get it to the next level? By working. I told the guys that the one thing that I will always keep in my mind is what he said. ‘I don’t associate with lazy people. I don’t speak their language. We have nothing in common.’ Perseverance equals success. He lived by that.”
A teary-eyed Cash, a former WNBA star, said: “It’s going to be hard. But I just keep thinking in my head it’s a celebration. And I just want be as strong as humanly possible.” – Marc J. Spears