A photo of Kobe and Gianna Bryant sitting courtside was shown during the memorial tribute
Kobe and Gianna Bryant were honored with a special tribute during the NAACP Image Awards on Saturday.
After the star-studded awards ceremony played an emotional Memoriam that highlighted some of the black historic figures who died recently, three screens were raised and a basketball hoop appeared on stage to begin the tribute to the late 41-year-old NBA player, who died on Jan. 26.
Bryant’s two iconic basketball jerseys were displayed on each screen that surrounded the main attraction as a video of the basketball legend began to play. During the video, the father of four was heard talking about one of his legendary basketball games.
A photo of Bryant sitting courtside with Gianna — who also died in the Calabasas helicopter crash — appeared in the video.
As Bryant’s tribute concluded, the entire crowd erupted in huge applause.
The emotional tribute comes just two nights before the Los Angeles Lakers’ public memorial at the Staples Center will take place in honor of Bryant, Gianna and the seven victims: John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.
Limited tickets to the memorial were made available for the general public earlier this month. Proceeds from the memorial will benefit the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation.
The date (2/24/20) holds special significance for the Bryant family: Gianna wore jersey No. 2 at the Mamba Sports Academy, and Bryant wore No. 24 in the latter half of his career. The “20” also represents the number of years Byrant and Vanessa were together.
The L.A. Clippers have a game scheduled against the Memphis Grizzlies later that night in the arena. Staples Center has also served as the location for memorials to Michael Jackson in 2009 and Nipsey Hussle in 2019.
Vanessa Bryant announced the date for the public memorial on her Instagram page, and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed plans for the event last month.
“There will absolutely be a memorial to mark the contributions of this incredible man and not only him, but to commemorate the loss of his daughter and all the other families that were there,” Garcetti said, according to KTLA. “We don’t have that date finalized but we’ve been talking every day to the Lakers, and most importantly, to [Bryant’s widow, Vanessa] as well.”
Staples Center has already served as the most prominent meeting place for fans to mourn. Shortly after the accident, thousands of fans gathered outside of the arena to leave flowers, notes, basketballs and jerseys in memory of Bryant, who won five championships with the Lakers.
Byrant and Gianna are survived by Vanessa, 37, as well as Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and 7-month-old Capri.
If you would like to help the families of the victims of the crash, consider donating to the Mamba on Three Fund. Contributions to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation will help support youth sports.