The first professional sports event at the Staples Center since the death of Kobe Bryant was on Thursday night when the Los Angeles Kings took on the Tampa Bay Lightning. In was a highly emotional night in what’s been called the “House that Kobe Built,” and before the hockey game, the Kings organization took time to honor Bryant and the other lives lost in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
The team played a video showing clips from Kobe’s career and then had a 24 second moment of silence during which the names and photos of the nine victims were display on the Jumbotron.
During their pregame warm-ups, the Kings players wore number 8 and 24 jerseys before changing back into their normal numbers before the game started.
Watch the full pregame ceremony as the LA Kings remembered Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and all of the victims from Sunday's tragedy
— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 30, 2020
Kings captain Anze Kopitar said, “For us as hockey players, being so many years kind of connected to the Lakers, we felt like we’ve got to pay some sort of tribute. It’s a little unorthodox for our dress code, but we wanted to pay our respects.”
During the ceremony, former Kings broadcaster said, “What took place this past Sunday has us all reeling. The lives lost and the magnitude of this terrible moment has been impossible to comprehend.”
The broadcast also read the public message Kob’s wife, Vanessa, posted on her Instagram account on Wednesday.
“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time,” Vanessa began her post. “Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.”
She continued, “We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon.”
“I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them,” Vanessa wrote. “But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”
She concluded: “Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality.”