LOS ANGELES — As a player, Kobe Bryant prompted fierce devotion from fans and intense debates from critics.

In death, the Los Angeles ­Lakers legend has continued to inspire raw emotions and deep personal connections. His public memorial Monday sparked a heartbreaking tribute from his wife, Vanessa; brought Michael Jordan to tears; and led former teammate Shaquille O’Neal to share behind-the-scenes anecdotes during a two-hour ceremony.

“[Bryant] knows how to get to you in a way that affects you personally,” said Jordan, who famously was Bryant’s childhood idol. “Even if he’s being a pain in the ass.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver; Hall of Famers Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Kareem ­Abdul-Jabbar; current stars ­Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving; and dozens of other prominent athletes and entertainers descended on Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to attend the celebration of life in Bryant’s honor. The event, which was held in the wake of a Jan. 26 helicopter crash that left nine people, including Bryant and his daughter Gianna, dead, brought the basketball world to a halt.

Tens of thousands of Lakers fans, many of whom donned his jerseys and chanted his name, looked down on a stage that was decorated with red roses and that hosted musical tributes from ­Beyoncé and Alicia Keys. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel served as the master of ceremonies for the event, which was held Feb. 24 — a reference to the No. 2 and No. 24 jerseys worn by Gianna and Kobe Bryant, respectively.

Vanessa Bryant, a 37-year-old widow and mother of Bryant’s four daughters, was poised throughout her extended tributes to Bryant, who died at 41, and to Gianna, who was 13. Calling Gianna her “baby girl,” Vanessa remembered her daughter’s love for basketball, cooking shows and Disney movies and her “infectious” laugh.

“Gianna never tried to conform,” said Vanessa Bryant, who had not spoken publicly since the fatal helicopter crash. “She was always herself. Wearing a white T, black leggings, a denim jacket, white high-top Converse and a flannel tied around her waist, with straight hair, was her go-to style.”

Gianna, Vanessa Bryant continued, was fluent in Mandarin and Spanish, and mother and daughter had a ritual of kissing each other every morning and night. Vanessa described her second-oldest daughter as a “daddy’s girl who I know loved her mama.”

“Gigi was sunshine. She brightened up my day, every day,” Vanessa Bryant continued. “I won’t be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day. I’ll never get to see my baby girl walk down the aisle or have a father-daughter dance with her daddy. Gianna would have been an amazing mommy. She was very maternal ever since she was little. Gigi most likely would have been the best player in the WNBA.”

Vanessa Bryant remembered her husband as a hopeless romantic, whom she called “Kob Kob” and “boo boo.” They met when she was 17, and she called herself Bryant’s “first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidant and protector.” She hailed Kobe Bryant as the “MVP of girl dads” for his deep devotion to his four daughters and his special bond over basketball with Gianna.

“He never left the toilet seat up, he always told the girls how beautiful and smart they are, and he taught them how to be brave and how to keep pushing forward when things got tough,” Vanessa Bryant said. “God knew [Kobe and Gianna] couldn’t be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together.”

Jordan offered Vanessa Bryant a hand as she left the stage to applause, and soon it was the former Chicago Bulls superstar’s turn to take the microphone. Now 57, Jordan fondly remembered Bryant as a “little brother” whose inquisitive nature was initially a “nuisance.” Jordan was the NBA’s premier player when Bryant entered the league in 1996, and the future Hall of Famer recalled getting questions from Bryant about his signature moves and his dedication to his craft at all hours of the night.

“That nuisance turned into love,” Jordan said. “The questions, wanting to know every little detail. He used to call me at 3 o’clock in the morning [to talk about] post-up moves, footwork, the triangle [offense]. At first it was an aggravation. But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know.”

Tears ran down Jordan’s face throughout his speech. At one point, he paused to make a self-deprecating reference to his tearful 2009 Hall of Fame speech, which prompted years of viral memes at his expense.

“Now [Kobe’s] got me [crying], and I’ve got to look at another crying meme,” Jordan joked to loud laughter throughout the crowd. “I told my wife I wasn’t going to do this because I don’t want to see this for the next three to four years.”

Jordan credited Bryant’s drive to “be the best basketball player he could be” with his own desire to “be the best big brother I could be.” They had exchanged text messages recently about Gianna’s budding basketball career, with Jordan noting that he still wanted to play baseball when he was Gianna’s age.

It was Bryant’s relentless pursuit of self-improvement that stuck with Jordan.

“Kobe never left anything on the court,” he said. “I think that’s what he would want for us to do. No one knows how much time we have. That’s why we must live in the moment, enjoy the moment. We must spend as much time as we can with our family and friends. When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died. When I look in this arena, or across the globe, a piece of you died. Those are the memories that we live with and learn from.”

O’Neal and Bryant teamed up for the first three of Bryant’s five championships with the Lakers, but they are often painted as adversaries rather than teammates because of their falling out in 2004. Although the Hall of Fame center noted that he and Bryant shared a private mutual respect that they chose to hide from the media when they were teammates, he laughed at one memorable interaction with the notoriously stubborn Bryant.

As O’Neal recalled, his Lakers teammates were complaining that Bryant wasn’t passing the ball. O’Neal confronted Bryant, telling the younger star that there is “no 'I' in team.” Bryant’s retort: “I know, but there’s an ‘m-e’ in that motherf-----.”

“I told [Rick Fox and Robert Horry] to just get the rebound,” O’Neal deadpanned. “He’s not passing.”

O’Neal hailed Bryant as ­“Heaven’s MVP” on a day that was filled with musical and multimedia tributes. Beyoncé opened the program by singing “XO” and “Halo” — two of Bryant’s favorites. Keys performed Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” a piece that Kobe Bryant had taught himself to play for his wife.

Women’s basketball stars Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu thanked Bryant for motivating them and for supporting the women’s game, and both spoke glowingly of Gianna’s future as a player.

“Her skill was undeniable at an early age,” said Taurasi, a three-time WNBA champion who said she had developed “early-onset Mamba Mentality” while watching Bryant’s Lakers as a child. “Who has a turnaround fadeaway jumper at 11? LeBron [James has] barely got it today.”

Ionescu, the University of Oregon star who worked out with Gianna on multiple occasions last summer, said: “She had a fadeaway that was better than mine. If I represent the present of the women’s game, Gigi was the future, and Kobe knew it.”

While tribute videos of Bryant’s on-court highlights were sprinkled throughout, the memorial sought to capture all aspects of his life. Bryant’s Oscar-winning “Dear Basketball” short film was aired in full to close the program, and Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s longtime agent, spoke about their close friendship, which included fly-fishing trips and conversations about parenting.

Pelinka revealed that he had been exchanging text messages with Bryant on the morning of Jan. 26, while Bryant was in the helicopter just moments before the fatal crash. Bryant had asked Pelinka for a baseball agent’s contact information because he was trying to help one of the daughters of John and Keri Altobelli, two of the crash victims, land an internship.

“Kobe’s last human act was heroic,” Pelinka said. “He wanted to use his platform to bless and shape a young girl’s future.”

As he described his painful grief over the past four weeks, Pelinka said he had turned to an inscribed book that Bryant had gifted to him for comfort. Bryant’s inscription read, in part, “May you always remember to enjoy the road, especially when it’s a hard one.”

“He wrote the words just a few months ago,” Pelinka said. “I realize that perhaps they were meant for us all.”

— Ben Golliver

Find live updates from Monday’s memorial service, by Ben Golliver in Los Angeles and Cindy Boren in Washington, below.


8:46 p.m.
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‘Dear Basketball’ and ‘Kobe’ chants bring memorial to a close

The two-hour ceremony wrapped with an airing of Bryant’s Oscar-winning film, “Dear Basketball.” The short film, which features music by John Williams, was based on a letter that Bryant wrote to the game when he first announced his retirement in 2015.

“My body knows it’s time to say goodbye, and that’s okay,” Bryant narrates. “I’m ready to let you go. I want you to know now so we can savor every moment we have left together. The good and the bad. We have given each other all that we have. We both know, no matter what I do next, I’ll always be that kid with the rolled-up socks, garbage can in the corner, five seconds on the clock, ball in my hands. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Love you always, Kobe.”

As the clip ended, the Staples Center crowd cheered and host Jimmy Kimmel brought the memorial to a conclusion.

“Thank you, Vanessa,” Kimmel said to Bryant’s wife. “We love you. We love your kids. We’ll pray for you. … Don’t forget: Work hard and hug the people you love.”

Fans chanted “Ko-be! Ko-be!” as they exited the arena.

8:40 p.m.
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Shaquille O’Neal says Kobe Bryant’s death ‘pains me to my core’

Following Michael Jordan’s poignant mix of emotion and levity, Kobe Bryant’s longtime teammate Shaquille O’Neal took center stage, offering a similar combination of anguish and humor.

Like Jordan, O’Neal referred to Bryant as both a friend and younger brother. The duo famously had their differences during and after the three straight championships they won with the Lakers, but O’Neal has celebrated Bryant since his death and did so again on Monday.

He told the Staples Center crowd that he had envisioned himself speaking of Bryant at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony or at a fundraising event for his foundation, and that doing so in these very different circumstances “pains me to my core.” He called Bryant “a loyal friend and a true Renaissance man,” and compared their relationship to that of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

“Kobe and I pushed one another to play some of the greatest basketball of all time,” O’Neal said. ” … And yeah, sometimes like immature kids we argued and fought. … In truth, Kobe and I always maintained a deep respect and a love for one another.”

O’Neal promised to teach Bryant’s daughters basketball moves, and promised not to teach them his free throw shooting technique. And he said he would take comfort in the thought of Kobe and Gianna Bryant holding hands and walking to the nearest basketball court.

“Kobe will show her some new Mamba moves today, and Gigi will soon master them,” O’Neal said. “Kobe, you’re heaven’s MVP. I love you my man. 'Til we meet again, rest in peace.”

8:32 p.m.
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A crying Michael Jordan brings down the house

His eyes red-rimmed, Michael Jordan stepped up to the stage and told stories about his deep love for Kobe Bryant, his passion, and his willingness to be a pain to pick Jordan’s brain for advice on life, business and basketball.

He took over at Staples Center, talking about how Bryant never left anything on the court.

“I’m grateful to be here to honor Gigi and celebrate the gift that Kobe gave us all, what he accomplished as a basketball player, as a businessman and a storyteller, and as a father. In the game of basketball, in life, as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank. He left it all on the floor.

“Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends, but we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe."

Jordan said Bryant used to call him late at night, or in the early morning hours, to talk about “post-up moves, footwork, and sometimes the Triangle” — a reference to the coach they shared, Phil Jackson, in Chicago and L.A.

“At first, it was an aggravation,” he said. “But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know. And it’s an amazing thing about passion. If you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you would go to extremes to try to understand or try to get it.”

He continued: “What Kobe Bryant was to me was the inspiration that someone truly cared about either the way I played the game or the way that he wanted to play the game. He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be. And as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.

“To do that, you had to put up with the aggravation, the late night calls, or the dumb questions. I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant that he was just trying to be a better person, a better basketball player. We talked about business, we talked about family, we talked about everything. And he was just trying to be a better person.”

With tears running down his cheeks, he couldn’t resist mentioning the “Crying Jordan” meme.

“Now he’s got me,” Jordan, crying harder, said. “I’ll have to look at another crying meme for the next … I told my wife I wasn’t gonna do this, because I didn’t want to see that for the next three or four years, but that is what Kobe Bryant does to me, and I’m pretty sure Vanessa and his friends all can say the same thing: He knows how to get to you in a way that affects you personally, even if he’s being a pain in the ass. … The sense of love for him and the way he can bring out the best in you, he did that for me.”

7:59 p.m.
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Rob Pelinka recalls texting with Kobe Bryant the morning of fatal helicopter crash

Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s longtime agent and close friend, described text messaging Bryant on the morning of Jan. 26, the date of his fatal helicopter crash. Bryant had asked Pelinka for a baseball agent’s contact information while seeking to assist one of the daughters of John and Keri Altobelli, two of the other victims of the crash, get an internship. Bryant, Pelinka said, was texting him from the helicopter.

“Kobe’s last human act was heroic,” Pelinka said. “He wanted to use his platform to bless and shape a young girl’s future.”

Pelinka described struggling with his grief following the helicopter crash, saying that he turned to an inscribed book that Bryant had gifted to him recently for comfort. The inscription read: “To R.P. My brother. May you always remember to enjoy the road, especially when it’s a hard one. Love Kobe.”

“He wrote the words just a few months ago,” Pelinka said. “I realize that perhaps they were meant for us all.”

After describing fly fishing trips with Bryant and his friend’s zeal for coaching after his retirement, Pelinka recalled how Bryant taught himself to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” as a tribute to his wife, Vanessa, while he was away from her on a road trip. Upon the conclusion of Pelinka’s speech, Alicia Keys took the stage to play “Moonlight Sonata.”

7:52 p.m.
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Geno Auriemma: ‘I’m here as a father and not as a basketball coach’

Gianna Bryant may have been 13, but she knew just where she wanted to play basketball — for the University of Connecticut’s storied team.

Geno Auriemma, the coach of that team, took the stage on Monday and said, “I’m not here for the basketball part. I tried to write a long, flowing speech about basketball, and I can’t do it. There are too many thoughts in my head ever since Vanessa asked me to speak, too many things that made me realize more that I’m here as a father and not as a basketball coach …

“The thoughts that I started to have after I was asked to speak were obviously about all the people who were on board [the helicopter],” Auriemma said. “And if you’re a father, a grandfather … you feel a different kind of emotion when there are children involved. Because this is always about the children.”

Two of Gianna’s teammates, Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli, died along with her, en route to a game that Kobe was going to coach. He’d reached out to Auriemma for tips as he moved into coaching Gianna’s team, and the veteran college coach saw some irony in that, calling Kobe Bryant “probably the most uncoachable player in the NBA during his career.”

“The uncoachable one wants to talk about coaching …” Auriemma joked. “I wanted to know why, and he said, ‘I’m coaching my daughter’s team.’ I said, ‘Oh, my God, that poor kid!’ So when I watched highlights of her playing, and on about the third or fourth time she touched the ball, Gianna passed it when she was open and I thought, ‘She’s not listening to her father.’”

Auriemma left the crowd with a message about the players who had been inspired by Kobe and Gianna Bryant, but also about the parents who were inspired by Kobe Bryant’s parenting.

“In this room, there is an incredible amount of talent; in this room is maybe the greatest collection of talent that I’ve ever been around,” he said. “But in this room there’s a family, and there’s still a team back home, and they still have a great coach, and I’m going to be rooting for that team from here on in.”

7:46 p.m.
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Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu, women’s basketball stars, remember Kobe and Gianna Bryant

Before any NBA figures paid tribute to Kobe Bryant, a pair of women’s stars recounted their meetings and relationships with both Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, an aspiring basketball player who dreamed of attending U-Conn. and playing in the WNBA.

Diana Taurasi, regarded by some as the greatest women’s player of all time, said that Bryant had nicknamed her “White Mamba” and that his determined playing style had inspired her throughout her childhood in California.

“He made it okay to play with an edge that was borderline crazy,” said Taurasi, who has won three WNBA titles. “Early-onset Mamba Mentality was in full effect.”

Taurasi said that she had spent time recently with the Bryants in Phoenix, and that she has long ended workout sessions by practicing a “Kobe game-winner” before she went home. She remembered Gianna as a “fearless” and skilled player with big dreams of her own.

“Her skill was undeniable at an early age,” Taurasi said. “Who has a turnaround fadeaway jumper at 11? LeBron barely got it today. I’ll always remember the look on Gigi’s face. It was a look of excitement, a look of belonging, a look of fierce determination.”

Sabrina Ionescu, a star at the University of Oregon, said that she too grew up idolizing Bryant, adding that she cherished her first meeting with the Bryants when the Ducks played the USC Trojans last year. Bryant would send her encouraging text messages after she posted triple-doubles this season, and Ionescu worked out with Gianna multiple times last summer.

“She had a fadeaway better than mine,” Ionescu said. “If I represent the present of the women’s game, Gigi was the future, and Kobe knew it.”

7:18 p.m.
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Vanessa Bryant recalls ‘amazing love story’ with Kobe

Vanessa Bryant paid tribute to her husband, recalling their “amazing love story” and Kobe Bryant’s text, shortly before he died, about getting away with her, without their four daughters.

They had hoped, she said, to grow old together. After his retirement, Kobe Bryant took over being the first parent in line to pick up the girls after school, with Vanessa at home with their two younger girls. The couple began dating when Vanessa Bryant was 17 ½, she said.

“I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidant and his protector," she said. "He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. He was the early bird, and I was the night owl. I was fire and he was ice, and vice versa at times. We balanced each other out. He would do anything for me.”

Vanessa Bryant was, she noted, often late to his games and her husband would call her out on it. “My smart ass would tell him,” Vanessa Bryant said, “that he wasn’t going to drop 81 points within the first 10 minutes of the game.”

Vanessa Bryant spoke of the moments Kobe would be missing, but said she was "so thankful Kobe heard [8-month old Capri] say ‘Dada.’ ”

“He isn’t going to be here to drop Bianka and Capri off at pre-K or kindergarten,” she said. “He isn’t going to be here to tell me to ‘Get a grip, V’ when we have to leave the kindergarten classroom, or show up to our daughters’ doctor’s visits for my own moral support. He isn’t going to be able to walk our girls down the aisle or spin me around on the dance floor while singing ‘P.Y.T.’ to me, but I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband and father he was, the kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes.”

Kobe Bryant, she said, left valuable lessons and stories behind, and both he and Gianna were “funny, happy, silly and they loved life.”

She concluded, breaking into tears: “God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together. ... May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again one day. We love you both and miss you. Forever and always, mommy.”

7:09 p.m.
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Vanessa Bryant weeps over daughter Gianna, ‘an amazing, sweet and gentle soul’

Vanessa Bryant recalled her 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, as someone who always made sure to kiss her good night and good morning, someone who was “sunshine” and “one of my very best friends.”

“The outpouring of love and support that my family has felt from around the world has been so uplifting,” she told the crowd. “Thank you so much for all your prayers. I’d like to talk about both Kobe and Gigi, but I’ll start with my baby girl first.”

“Gianna Bryant is an amazing, sweet and gentle soul,” Vanessa Bryant said. She was always thoughtful, she always kissed me good night and kissed me good morning. There were a few occasions where I was absolutely tired from being up with [the Bryants’ younger daughters] and I thought she had left for school without saying goodbye. I’d text and say ‘No kiss?’ and Gianna would reply with ‘Mama, I kissed you but you were asleep and I didn’t want to wake you.’ She knew how much her morning and evening kisses meant to me, and she was so thoughtful to remember to kiss me every day. She was daddy’s girl, but I know she loved her mama and she would always tell me and show me how much she loved me.”

Vanessa cried as she noted that she’d never be able to teach her daughter how to drive, or walk down the aisle at her wedding, or dance with her daddy. And, she predicted, Gianna “would have most likely become the best player in the WNBA” and “would have made a huge difference for women’s basketball.”

“She was a beautiful, kind, happy, silly, thoughtful and loving daughter and sister,” Vanessa Bryant said, adding “I cannot imagine life without her.”

7:00 p.m.
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‘Everywhere you go, you see his face,’ Jimmy Kimmel says

Kobe Bryant was a frequent guest on Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show and he tearfully took the stage, struggling with his emotional tribute as he read the names of all nine victims of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash.

“Everywhere you go, you see his face, his number, Gigi’s face, Gigi’s number. At every intersection,” he said. “There are hundreds of murals painted by artists inspired not because Kobe was a basketball player but because he was an artist, too.”

Kimmel noted that Bill Russell wore Bryant’s jersey to a game Sunday and cracked, “I knew he would come to us eventually.”

Urging those in attendance to be grateful for life, he asked that members of the crowd share the peace, as worshipers do in many religious ceremonies.

The scene at the Kobe and Gianna Bryant memorial in Los Angeles

Feb. 24, 2020 | Alyssa Quevedo and her husband Emmanuel take a selfie in front of a mural of Kobe Bryant near Staples Center in Los Angeles before a public memorial service for the former Lakers star and his daughter Gianna. (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)
6:51 p.m.
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Among those in attendance: Adam Silver, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan

A who’s who of NBA figures arrived at Staples Center on Monday morning for the Kobe Bryant memorial.

Attendees included: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver; Hall of Famers Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal, Phil Jackson and Elgin Baylor; future Hall of Famers Dwyane Wade, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash; Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James; Golden State Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green; James Harden and Russell Westbrook, of the Houston Rockets; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker; and University of Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu. Alex Rodriguez, the former MLB star, and Jennifer Lopez were also in attendance, along with Olympian Michael Phelps, and Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West.

Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo recently hailed Bryant for his willingness to mentor the next generation after his 2016 retirement.

“He was one of those guys who gave back to the game so much, gave back to the players,” Antetokounmpo said at All-Star Weekend. “A lot of people, when they’re so big, they don’t do that. There’s a quote that talent is worthless if you don’t share it. He was one of those guys who would share his talent with us. He’s definitely going to be missed.”

6:46 p.m.
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Beyoncé opens memorial service with ‘XO’

The Bryant memorial opens with a song from Beyoncé, introduced as a close friend of the Bryant family. “I’m here because I love Kobe and this is one of his favorite songs,” she said before restarting the song and asking the crowd to sing along with her.

“I want you to sing it so loud, they hear your love.”

The song, “XO,” contains the lyrics: “In the darkest night hour / Search through the crowd / Your face is all that I see / I’ll give you everything / Baby, love me lights out / Baby, love me lights out.”

She followed that with a performance of “Halo.”

6:17 p.m.
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A special 'Forever’ tribute from Nike

Kobe Bryant was, of course, larger than basketball. He was a global brand, with signature shoes that were popular around the world. Nike remembered Bryant on Monday, with a “Mamba Forever” tribute video.

Earlier this month, Nike honored Bryant and Gianna during Fashion Week in New York. Six children walked onstage wearing Lakers jerseys, with Bryant’s Nos. 24 and 8. The sportswear company was debuting its 2020 Tokyo Olympics Collection.

5:30 p.m.
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LeBron James and the Lakers say Bryant remains with them

LeBron James, the Lakers’ franchise player, honored Bryant with a pre-game speech at the team’s first game back, telling reporters after the game that Bryant’s death had provided a reminder of life’s priorities.

In recent days, James has chosen not to speak at length when asked about Bryant. During All-Star Weekend, he politely declined to divulge his favorite Bryant memory.

On Sunday, after beating the Boston Celtics, James said little when asked about Monday’s celebration of life.

“I’ve talked about it,” he said. “It’s been a celebration — ever since we got the horrific news — about his life and what he means to the game. I don’t want to keep going back on it. I think it’s unfair and unjust to his family as they try to move on, and we’re all trying to move on. Also know that he’s with us. His jersey is sitting in my locker right now. It just puts me in a difficult minds state when I continue to harp on it, if you can respect that.”

The infinity symbol had special meaning for Bryant, who named his production company Granity Studios. It is, the company said after the crash, "a word Kobe created that is a combination of greater than infinity.”

Bryant’s death has rocked the Lakers. Owner Jeanie Buss considered Bryant to be her brother, and General Manager Rob Pelinka was his longtime agent and close friend. The Lakers postponed their first game after his death — a Jan. 28 game against the crosstown Clippers — and spent the first few days in silence. The Lakers held an extended pre-game ceremony to honor Bryant on Jan. 31, their first game after his death, and they have worn a jersey patch in his honor.

Bryant was honored throughout the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in Chicago earlier this month: He was named a Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame finalist for the 2020 class and the NBA renamed its All-Star Game MVP award in his honor. Bryant was honored with speeches from former teammate Pau Gasol and Lakers legend Magic Johnson; Jennifer Hudson and Common offered musical tributes before the game.

5:27 p.m.
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T-shirt, program and ticket mark the day

Those who have been admitted to the memorial at Staples Center, either by invitation or with a ticket purchased online, will receive a T-shirt bearing images of Kobe and Gianna Bryant at Lakers games, and a program.

In addition, every ticket says “Section 8, Row 24, Seat 2” to commemorate the numbers worn by Bryant and his daughter.

The booklet bears a photo of the Bryants taken in November as they sat courtside at a Lakers game.

The back of the program carried a message to “our daughters.” Bryant had four, including Gianna, and was a proud #GirlDad.

Photos are not permitted in the seating area surrounding the 24-by-24 stage, which is surrounded by red flowers and holds a drum kit and microphone stands. The scoreboard is displaying photo of Bryant and his family.