Lakers pay tribute with LeBron James, Usher, Boys II Men

First Lakers game since his death brings flock of mourners

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A spotlight illuminated Kobe Bryant’s retired Los Angeles Lakers jerseys – No. 8 and No. 24 – in the Staples Center rafters on Friday night. Fans briefly chanted, “Kobe! Kobe!”

The arena was cloaked in darkness, save for lights from fans’ cell phones, until a spotlight lit center court to reveal two large gold flower arrangements, one an 8 and one a 24, just before the Lakers played their first game since Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, California.

Usher sang “Amazing Grace” surrounded by 19,995 fans – and two empty courtside seats for Kobe and Gianna, draped in their jerseys with bouquets of red roses – as a video montage played on the scoreboard.

It was a tribute to Bryant called “Remembering Kobe.”

Fans again chanted, “Kobe, Kobe,” then “Gigi, Gigi”.

Renowned cellist Ben Hong played at center court as a video of Bryant talking and playing basketball showed on the scoreboard. He spoke of his love of the game, his love of his wife, Vanessa, and his four daughters.

“The joy of the game just comes from being out there and playing.”

“What I’ve learned is to always keep going.”

“I just want to spend time with family, being a husband, being a father.”



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