Kobe Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning

By Benjamin VanHoose
January 27, 2020 08:40 AM
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Sports fans showed an outpouring of love for Kobe Bryant in the wake of his tragic death over the weekend.

As news of the basketball legend’s death broke on Sunday morning, masses of people flocked to pay their respects at the Staples Center in Los Angeles — the arena that served as Bryant’s home court for his 20 seasons in the NBA.

Coincidentally, the Staples Center was host to the 2020 Grammy Awards on Sunday night, making the sports complex even more crowded as the music awards show drew celebrities and spectators along with Bryant mourners.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning that also killed seven other people. Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, 37, and their other daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

Between arranging flowers and mementos, chanting “Kobe” together and comforting one another, fans came together outside the Staples Center for a touching display of solidarity amid tragedy.

Kobe Bryant tributes
| Credit: Broadimage/Shutterstock
Kobe Bryant tribute
| Credit: ADAM S DAVIS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Kobe Bryant tribute
| Credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

Earlier in the day, model Chrissy Teigen, who was on her way to attend the Grammys, described the mood in L.A. as emotionally affected.

“Downtown right now and nothing feels more unimportant than what we are doing today,” she wrote on Twitter. “This is absolutely terrible. Everyone is numb.”

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Kobe Bryant tribute
| Credit: APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images
Kobe Bryant tribute
| Credit: Broadimage/Shutterstock

During the Grammys ceremony, Bryant received a passionate tribute from host Alicia Keys and other music stars, both on the red carpet beforehand and throughout performances during the night.

Bryant’s jerseys — Nos. 8 and 24 — stayed illuminated throughout the show when, typically, on-display jerseys are dimmed during concerts and other events held in the arena. The choice was a subtle nod to the late basketball star’s enduring legacy.

In a statement, the National Basketball Players Association said it was “stunned and saddened” by Bryant’s untimely passing.

“Words cannot express his impact on our Players, the NBA and the game of basketball,” read the statement. “This is a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken. We send love and prayers out to his wife Vanessa and the entire family.”