It’s been more than a week since Kobe Bryant lost his life in a helicopter crash, and many are still in mourning, including his wife Vanessa.
On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers paid tribute to the Lakers legend by standing on their respective 24-yard lines. Bryant wore #24 during the second half of his career.
A source told People magazine, “[Vanessa] was aware of the Super Bowl tribute and she was touched. Every memorial means something to her. Every memorial is important.”
Bryant will be honored at Sunday’s Oscars held at the Dolby Theatre. He took home an Oscar in 2018 for his work on “Dear Basketball.”
Vanessa has also requested some of the items left by thousands of fans at the makeshift memorial at Staples Center, where he played for most of his career with the Lakers. Over the past week, fans left basketballs, flowers, banners, candles, and signs to remember Kobe and their daughter Gianna, who was also one of the nine victims in the crash.
According to Lee Ziedman, the president of Staples Center, L.A. Live, and Microsoft Theater, the dismantling of the memorial began on Monday at 4 a.m. He tweeted, “We began the cleanup at 4am @LALIVE XBox Plaza and we have now boxed 1353 basketballs dedicated to Kobe and Gianna. Truly amazing the outpouring of love from the City of Angels in honor of the 9 who lost their lives 1/26/20.”
The flowers will be turned into mulch and spread throughout L.A. Live and Staples Center.
Before the Lakers played the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, Bryant was remembered via two video tributes, performances by Usher, Boyz II Men, and cellist Ben Hong, and in a moving speech from LeBron James.
James, who noted he was electing not to read from prepared remarks, said, "Now, I know at some point, we will have a memorial for Kobe, but I look at this as a celebration tonight. This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the getting up, the sitting down, the everything. The countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be. Tonight, we celebrate the kid that came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we've seen over the past three years, man. Tonight is a celebration."
The Lakers lost, but the crowd showed overwhelming support for the tributes to Bryant, which included the introduction of the Lakers' starting five as "Kobe Bryant," each wearing Bryant's famous No. 8 or No. 24 shirt. In fact, 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 Bryant's Mamba Academy number.
Vanessa highlighted two empty seats, which had both Kobe and Gianna’s jersey, posting, "There is no #24 without #2." Her hashtags #GirlDaddy, #DaddysGirl, #MyBabies, #OurAngels, and #KobeandGigi hammered the point home.
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.” Vanessa also shared at that time, “We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately.”
She stressed that the family is in pain, writing, “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.”
Vanessa continued, “I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. 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.