Los Angeles Lakers honored the departed Kobe Bryant and others who perished in a helicopter crash last Sunday in a heartfelt ceremony ahead of their opening game against Portland Trail Blazers.
Lakers forward LeBron James led the wake and delivered an emotional tribute to the NBA legend mentioning all nine crash victims by name and remembering the memorable time Bryant had spent with the team.
As cellist Ben Hong played a somber rendition of “Hallelujah”, those in the attendance at the Staples Center listened to Kobe Bryant narrating himself in a video tribute chronicling his NBA journey through the years.
The crowd observed 24.2 seconds of silence after the video commemorating the numbers worn by Kobe during his time with Lakers.
In another symbolic gesture, two-floor seats were left vacant honoring Bryant and daughter Gianna in a packed arena of 19,000 as crowds poured in to attend the ceremony ahead of the game.
Hundred of Lakers fans had gathered outside the arena signing tribute boards with heartfelt messages to the five-time NBA champion. Number of boards has grown from 3 to 10 in a matter of days.
Trail Blazers won the game 127-119 thanks to Damian Lilliard and Cj McCollum’s 40 each supported by Trevor Ariza’s 39 and Hassan Whitside’s 34 points.