There wasn't a dry eye in the house at Staples Center Friday night, as the Lakers-Trail Blazers game took on the form of a celebration of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who perished Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Along with the fans who showed up to cheer on the team and to show respect for Kobe's legacy were about eight of Gianna's teammates from Mamba Academy, who were seated in the front row.
The crash claimed Kobe, 41, and Gianna, 13, and — among the seven others who died — Mamba teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, both 13, as well as Mamba assistant coach Christina Mauser, 41.
The girls showed a united front as they watched the tributes, which included a speech from LeBron James and performances by Boyz II Men, Usher, and cellist Ben Hong.
Every seat at Staples Center was adorned with a Kobe No. 24 shirt, except for one that was a No. 2, in honor of Gianna's Mamba Academy number.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's widow and the mother of Gianna, highlighted that shirt, posting, "There is no #24 without #2." Her hashtags #GirlDaddy, #DaddysGirl, #MyBabies, #OurAngels, and #KobeandGigi hammered the point home.
The Lakers had also honored the Bryants by observing a 24.2-second silence — "24" for Kobe and "2" for Gianna.
Vanessa had previously broken her silence on the tragedy, writing on Instagram, “My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. 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.”