The Lakers played their first game since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash on Sunday, and it was an extremely emotional evening in the Staples Center.
Usher performed a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace,” Boyz II Men sand the National Anthem, and LeBron James addressed the crowd with an emotional speech about his friend.
But before any of that happened, the team took the time to put Bryant t-shirt jerseys on every single seat in the arena. And in two seats courtside, the team laid a number 24 Kobe jersey alongside a number 2 jersey for his daughter, Gianna, who also died in the accident.
After the game, Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, shared a photo of the jerseys on Instagram and wrote, “There is no #24 without #2. #GirlDaddy #DaddysGirl #MyBabies #OurAngels #KobeandGigi.”
She left the comments open for fans and friends to mourn with her.
Basketball star Lisa Leslie wrote, “Verified
It was such a beautiful tribute! Mamba Forever! Mabacita Forever. Sending you love and prayers.”
Soccer star David Beckham commented with a series of heart emojis.
“My heart has been so heavy for you and the girls. and yes, your beautiful angels… I’m so sorry hun,” one fan said.
“And there will never ever be another to match 2 or 24!!! The entire world has a hole in their heart right now. It’s amazing! Note to all: please send as much love as you can to people that u love! For u never know when will be the last time. Even surprise birthday parties are planned but no one can plan for death. Love the living while they here. All u will have is memories of love when they are gone!” another wrote.
“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.”