SPORTS

Tears shed, joyful times recalled at Kobe Bryant memorial

Jan 28, 2020, 5:23 AM
kobe...
Nicole Mascarenhas, wipes her eyes in front of a screen with the late Kobe Bryant at a memorial for Kobe Bryant near Staples Center Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fans call it The House that Kobe Built, and since Kobe Bryant’s shocking death in a helicopter crash mourners by the thousands have gathered outside the glistening steel-and-glass edifice where the Los Angeles Lakers legend made so much basketball history.

The arrivals at downtown Staples Center began soon after word spread that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people killed in Sunday’s crash. They continued unabated Monday as people took off from school or work to pay respects to a man with whom many felt a kinship.

“The memories that he gave us as a family were great memories,” said Lawrence Perez or North Hollywood, who arrived with his wife, Maureen, and 15-year-old daughter, Desiree. “We could have been at home, but we wanted to be with other people who are kind of going through the same thing.”

The Lakers had a game scheduled Tuesday night against the LA Clippers at Staples Center but the NBA postponed it “out of respect” for the Lakers. The next Lakers home game is Friday night against Portland.

The Staples Center, home to the Lakers and Clippers, opened for the 1999-2000 season, just as a 21-year-old Bryant was blossoming. That season the team would win the first of five championships over the next 10 years.

Although the mood there Monday was often somber as people hugged and wiped away tears, many couldn’t help but grin at times as they recalled joyful moments Bryant brought to their lives.

“The greatest moment was when I got his autograph his rookie year,” Perez said, recalling how he told the teenage Bryant he was destined for greatness. Bryant smiled, shook his hand and said he hoped he’d just break into the team’s starting lineup sometime soon.

Perez had planned to bring that ball to Bryant’s Hall of Fame induction, expected later this year, and ask him to sign it again.

“But that’s not going to happen now,” he said softly as his wife hugged him and said, “He cried when he heard the news.”

As people arrived at the arena they were greeted by a gigantic display of flowers, balloons, votive candles (some with Bryant’s photo on them), hats, jerseys, statuettes of angels and photos and paintings of Bryant and his daughter circling the entire area. Some showed father and daughter with angel’s wings. Others contained personal messages written in English, Spanish and Chinese, showing the international impact Bryant’s career had.

“I left my shoe for him,” said Louie Guerrero of Los Angeles, who arrived at the memorial pushing a stroller with his 2-year-old daughter, Lexie, decked out in her own little Lakers uniform. He spontaneously decided to add one of his official Lakers basketball shoes to the memorial after scribbling on it, “We Love You, Kobe.”

He walked away with only a sock on his left foot.

Nearby, Michelle Rodriguez of Los Angeles wiped away a tear as she gazed at photos of Bryant with his daughter and his teammates. The 30-year-old emergency room nurse had arrived with her 12-year-old bulldog, Canelle, after working an overnight shift. Both were wearing Lakers jerseys.

“I think everyone could say we loved the team as a whole, but it was different when you saw Kobe play,” she said.

“And he was such an awesome man outside of basketball too,” she added. “All the work he did in the community, he’s a hero to this city.”

Today’s Top Stories

Sports

Team USA gymnasts cheer from stands, four utah kids competed in international gymnastics competitio...
Britt Johnson

Utah well-represented during international gymnastics competition

A gymnastics competition last week saw four kids from Utah competing against international gymnasts. One parent says preparation went beyond training.
22 hours ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
Ben Morse and Wayne Sterling, CNN

Iran wants US out of World Cup after change made to Iranian flag

Iran state media has called for the US to be kicked out of the 2022 World Cup after the United States Soccer Federation changed Iran's flag on its social media platforms to show support for protesters in Iran.
2 days ago
On Saturday, two German soccer fans told CNN that they were asked by security officials at Qatar 20...
Ben Church, CNN

Soccer fans stopped by security for wearing rainbow-colored items

The World Cup is well underway in Qatar, but issues surrounding LGBTQ+ rights for the Gulf state won't go away.
3 days ago
Ski resorts...
Elizabeth Weiler

When are ski resorts opening in Utah?

SALT LAKE CITY — Winter is well underway in the beehive state. With an arctic front coming in, ski resorts across Utah are pushing up their opening days.  Although many mountains and ski resorts have not seen high totals of snow, you an still ride on man-made powder.  If you’re heading to the mountain today […]
11 days ago
New pickleball courts in South Jordan, Utah, account for the sport's growing popularity in Utah and...
Chandler Holt

More pickleball courts (and more players) coming to South Jordan

The addition of pickleball courts in South Jordan comes as the sport increases in popularity in Utah and across the country.
14 days ago
The playing field at American First Field has been replaced with new sod, according to Real Salt La...
Mark Jones

Real Salt Lake will be playing on a new playing field next season

The playing field at American First Field as been replaced by new sod, according to Real Salt Lake officials.
20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Tears shed, joyful times recalled at Kobe Bryant memorial