It’s been less than a week since the world lost Kobe Bryant and tributes to the NBA superstar continue to occur around the league. Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers honored Kobe with an emotional tribute as they hosted their first NBA game following his death.
It was an emotional night at the Staples Center. In a heartbreaking pre-game ceremony, the Lakers saluted one of the league’s all-time greats, Kobe Bryant. Current Lakers superstar LeBron James gave a rousing speech. “Tonight we celebrate the kid that came here at 18, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we’ve seen over the last three years,” James said, fighting back tears. “We’re all hurt and heartbroken.”
James also honored the other victims who tragically died in the helicopter crash, including Bryant’s daughter Gianna (Gigi). He concluded by saying, “In the words of Kobe Bryant, Mamba out. But in the words of us, not forgotten. Live on, brother.” Watch his touching speech below.
Ahead of the Lakers game James took to Instagram to unveil his new tattoo, a tribute to Bryant’s serpentine nickname Black Mamba, coiled around the two numbers he wore while playing for the team. “My brother,” he captioned the post.
The pre-game tribute also featured a live rendition of “Amazing Grace” by Usher. Cellist Ben Hong followed this up by playing a rendition of “Hallelujah” as the accompaniment to a tribute video, which was narrated by Bryant himself. Boyz II Men also took the stage for an emotional delivery of the National anthem.
The Lakers, who held a 24-second moment of silence, also saved seats for Kobe and Gigi, their courtside chairs adorned with each’s jersey and a bouquet of roses.