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The date holds special significance for the Bryant family

By Jason Duaine Hahn
February 07, 2020 12:56 PM
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A public memorial for Kobe Bryant, his daughter, 13-year-old Gianna Bryant, and seven others who died in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash was announced on Thursday.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the city will hold a service at Staples Center on Monday, Feb. 24. The event will also honor victims John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan. No other details surrounding the event have been announced.

The date holds special significance for the Bryant family: Gianna wore jersey No. 2 at the Mamba Sports Academy, and Bryant wore No. 24 in the latter half of his career.

The L.A. Clippers have a game scheduled against the Memphis Grizzlies later that night at the arena. Staples Center has also served as the location for memorials to Michael Jackson in 2009 and Nipsey Hussle in 2019.

Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed a public memorial for the Los Angeles Lakers legend was in the works.

“There will absolutely be a memorial to mark the contributions of this incredible man and not only him, but to commemorate the loss of his daughter and all the other families that were there,” Garcetti, 49, said Thursday, according to KTLA. “We don’t have that date finalized but we’ve been talking every day to the Lakers, and most importantly, to [Bryant’s widow, Vanessa] as well.”

Kobe tributes
Fans gather outside Staples Center after Bryant’s passing
| Credit: Apu GOMES / AFP

As news spread of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash, fans around the world paid tribute to the five-time NBA champion.

In Los Angeles, Staples Center — the arena where Bryant played most of his 20-year career — has already served as the most prominent meeting place for fans to mourn. Since the day of the accident, hundreds have gathered outside of the arena every day to leave flowers, notes, basketballs and jerseys in memory of Bryant, who won five championships with the Lakers.

Fellow athletes have also found their own ways to honor the former NBA MVP in the days since his passing — NBA teams allowed the 24-second shot clock to run down to zero at the start of games, and players temporarily wore one of Bryant’s numbers while on the court.

Bryant and the victims were also honored at the Super Bowl in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday.

“He obviously brought a lot to our world and I think all of us not only feel for the tragic events to his family but as well as everyone else who was a passenger on that helicopter,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said of the tribute.

While the Lakers were scheduled to play the L.A. Clippers just two days after Bryant’s death, the NBA allowed them to postpone the game to a later date. The Lakers’ first game at Staples Center following the tragedy was scheduled for Jan. 31 against the Portland Trailblazers.

Lakers players like LeBron James took to social media in the days that followed to share their own tributes to Bryant.

Gianna Bryant, Kobe Bryant
Gianna Bryant, Kobe Bryant
| Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

“I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had!” James said of Bryant in the first of two Instagram tributes to the 41-year-old on Monday night.

“It’s my responsibility to put this s— on my back and keep it going!!” he continued. “Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!!“

The next day, James uploaded a video of him greeting Bryant and Gianna during a recent game at Staples Center. “My brother!! I love you man!!” he wrote.

James and teammate Anthony Davis debuted Bryant-inspired tattoos ahead of their game against the Trailblazers.

Kobe and Gianna are survived by Vanessa Bryant, 37, as well as Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and 7-month-old Capri.

Kobe Bryant
The Bryant family
| Credit: Maxx Wolfson/Getty

Speaking to fans and followers about the loss of her “adoring” husband and their “beautiful, sweet” daughter Gianna, the mother of four wrote, “We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now.”

Vanessa continued: “I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way.”

“Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable,” she added, in part. “I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”

On Wednesday, Gianna’s middle school Harbor Day paid tribute to the late 13-year-old by retiring her jersey.

Vanessa later shared a photo of Gianna’s framed jersey, writing, “My Gigi. I love you! I miss you. You’ve taught us all that no act of kindness is ever too small. Mommy is still and will ALWAYS be so proud of you mamacita. ❤️#2 ?”

Ahead of the jersey retirement, Vanessa wrote about how much she missed her daughter.

“My Gianna,” Vanessa wrote via Instagram on Wednesday. “God I miss you. I’ve been so lucky to have woken up to see your gorgeous face and amazing smile for 13 years. Wish it would’ve been until my last breath.”

If you would like to help families of the other victims of the crash, consider donating to the Mamba on Three Fund. Contributions to the Mamba Sports Foundation will help support youth sports.