It was an extremely emotional night in Los Angeles on Friday as the Lakers played their first game since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant on Sunday. The game was in the Staples Center, which has been called The House that Kobe Built, and there were tributes to the Lakers legend, and the eight others killed in the helicopter crash, abound.
Perhaps the most emotional moment of the night came when Usher took center court flanked by numbers 8 and 25 and sang “Amazing Grace.”
Fans were blown away by the performance. “That was so moving. Well done Usher. Rest in power Kobe!” one said on Twitter.
“I broke down on usher’s amazing grace for KB, his daughter, and the other victims. Death is death and how we will miss them so, these feelings we feel dont have to go. They are in our hearts and in our minds, and the pain will ease when given time. Grieve how you need to,” another said.
Usher performs “Amazing Grace” during the Lakers’ tribute to Kobe. pic.twitter.com/NV88OpW5Uq
— ESPN (@espn) February 1, 2020
Kobe close friend and fellow Laker LeBron James addressed the crowd before the game.
“The first thing that comes to mind is that we’re all family,” James said. “As I look around this arena, we’re all grieving, we’re all hurt, we’re all heartbroken. But when you’re going through things like this, the best thing you can do is lean on the shoulders of your family.
“From Sunday morning, all the way until this point – now, I heard about Laker nation before I got here last year, about how much of a family it is – and that is absolutely what I’ve seen this week,” James continued. “Not only from the players, not only from the coaching staff, not only from the organization, but from everybody.”
Kob’s wife, Vanessa, posted her first public comments about the tragedy 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.”