Every Heartbreaking Moment From the Lakers' Tribute Ceremony For Kobe Bryant
The Staples Center was full of emotion on Friday night. The Los Angeles Lakers came together to honor Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, who were two of nine victims killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. The tribute ceremony, Remembering Kobe, marked the first Lakers game since the NBA legend’s death.
Usher, Boyz II Men, Charlie Puth, and Wiz Khalifa were among those who performed tributes. Additionally, LeBron James took the court to deliver an impassioned speech about the empire Kobe built during his 20-season career as a Laker. Ahead of the game, LeBron and his teammates wore Kobe’s jerseys, with numbers 8 and 24, and moments before tip-off, every starter was announced as Kobe Bryant in lieu of their names. Kobe’s and Gigi’s jerseys were draped over two courtside chairs with flowers resting on the seats.
Kobe’s impact was also felt by the Lakers’ opponents of the evening, the Portland Trail Blazers. All-Star guard Damian Lillard channeled the “Mamba Mentality” and delivered a Kobe-like performance with 48 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. “It was only right for us to pay our respect pregame and then go out there and honor him by competing at a higher level, and I thought both teams did that,” Damian told ESPN after the game. Look ahead to see every moment from the moving ceremony.