Thousands of people gathered at the Staples Center on Feb. 24 to celebrate Kobe and Gianna Bryant one month after their tragic deaths in a helicopter crash. The day was full of performances, touching speeches and more.
Nearly one month after Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and seven others were killed in a horrific helicopter crash, the Staples Center held a special public memorial to remember the victims on Feb. 24. Although only 20,000 or so people could get inside the event, thousands of others from around the world tuned into live streams to celebrate the legendary NBA star. Kobe played for the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center for 20 years before retiring in 2016, so the location was special to him and his family. The date of the memorial, 2/24, also had a special meaning, as 2 was Gianna’s basketball number and 24 was Kobe’s.
Before people got inside, the arena was decorated with 35,000 red roses. Those who attended were given a shirt upon entering the arena, along with a pin and program. The shirt had the name BRYANT written across the top, with the numbers 2 and 24 separated by an infinity symbol in the middle. Mourners were seated before the service officially began, and a slideshow with photos of Kobe and his family played across the screen. See photos from the memorial in the gallery above, which will be updated throughout the entire event.
The memorial started with a performance from Beyonce, who took center stage to give a touching tribute performance. She sang one of Kobe’s favorite songs of hers, “XO,” and had the entire crowd singing along. She followed it up with a rendition of her track, “Halo.” Jimmy Kimmel then took the stage to give a touching speech and to introduce Vanessa Bryant. Vanessa read her eulogy and had everyone in tears. She spoke about Kobe and Gigi separately, and remembered specific moments about both of their lives.
Kobe and Gianna were killed while flying via helicopter to one of her basketball games at Mamba Academy on Jan. 26. The official cause of the crash is yet to be determined, but it is suspected that the weather conditions on the day of the accident played a part in what happened. The other victims were Gianna’s teammates, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, along with their family members, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli and Sarah Chester, as well as coach, Christina Mauser, and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.
Fans and celebrities have publicly been mourning the loss of Kobe in the weeks since his death, but this memorial is the first official public event that has taken place to celebrate the star’s life. Kobe’s family and loved ones held a private funeral in Southern California on Feb. 7, as well.