Bryant, Daughter Honored By Fans, Friends and Players


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Fans of Kobe Bryant expressed their grief in an outpouring of emotion similar in its ardor to the worldwide response to the death of Princess Diana.

Outside the gated community in Newport Coast where Bryant lived, a makeshift memorial of balloons, flowers handwritten notes and pictures grew, many of the items in the purple and gold colors of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Fan Erin Karal of Huntington Beach told the Orange County Register “I was hoping to find some peace, some comfort,” Karal told the Orange County Register after she knelt at the memorial, wiped away tears and left a bouquet of flowers. “I knew I could at least come here to pay my respects to his family.”

Jamie Martinez of Anaheim also left flowers at the memorial.

“He gave us everything,” Martinez told the newspaper. “He gave 200 percent when he played. He played form the heart, no matter if he was injured and you learn to appreciate people like that.”

A mural of Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who was also killed in the crash, went up Sunday on a wall of the Pickford Market off Washington Boulevard. A smiling portrait of the father and daughter adorns the previously blank space with the caption “Kobe and Gigi, Forever Daddy's Girl.”

“I was really upset while I was painting, fighting back tears especially the `Daddy's Girl Banner,' Jules Muck told the Daily News. “It just meant a lot to me. My dad was ill and so their death just hit me, and I knew I definitely wanted to mention (Gianna).”

Near Staples Center, fans in Bryant's No. 8 and 24 jerseys chanted the players name and “MVP” as others wrote messages of condolence on the ground in front of Xbox Plaza as a memorial of flowers, jerseys and basketballs were left in honor of the five-time NBA champion.

“Everybody, even if they're not a huge sports fan, can look at this man and respect him for being a great father, a great friend, and then an even bigger inspiration," tribute attendee Brooklyn Butler told Business Insider.

Bryant was also honored at NBA arenas throughout the country.

At New York's Madison Square Garden, the arena was lit up in purple and gold lights, as a photo of the player was displayed on the building's digital marquee sign.

In Monday night's game between the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers the teams delivered a tribute to Bryant. The Pistons wore custom black uniforms with either No. 8 or No. 24 and the name Bryant for pre-game introductions.

The Cavaliers won the game's opening tip and ran the shot clock down from 24 seconds to zero. The Pistons inbounded the ball and held it behind half- court for an eight second violation to give the ball back to Cleveland. The game proceeded as scheduled from there.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings honored Bryant in similar fashion.

Players from the Dallas Mavericks wrote messages on their shoes in honor of Bryant, his daughters and the seven others who lost their lives in Sunday's crash.

Mavericks' Luka Doncic wrote the names of all nine victims on his shoes and his teammate Seth Curry wrote “Bean 24” on his shoes. Bean is Bryant's middle name.

Heat players wrote the names of Bryant and Gianna on their shoes.

Oklahoma City Thunder players wore gold-colored shoes in Bryant's honor.

Late night host Jimmy Fallon gave an emotional tribute to Bryant as he opened “The Tonight Show,” Monday evening.

He recalled at the age of 21 meeting the then 17-year-old Bryant at a party and the two didn't know anyone else at the event, so they began talking. He said the two immediately hit it off.

As the party progressed, the host asked for volunteers to make a beer run. The teenaged Bryant offered to drive and asked Fallon to come along.

The pair drove to a Pink Dot on Sunset Boulevard and tried to buy beer, but the cashier refused to sell them alcohol, until Bryant intervened, according to Fallon.

“We walked out with five cases of beer and saved the party,” Fallon said.

From that moment on Fallon said their friendship grew and only became stronger as each experience fatherhood, Bryant with four daughters and Fallon with two.

“We'd laugh at all the good things that happened since and we'd laugh at how much fun it was to raise kids and all the stupid mistakes we made trying to figure out how to be good dads," he said as he choked back tears.

Fallon suggested the best way to honor the memory of the Lakers' super star was to “love your family, love your teammates, and outwork everyone else in the gym."

Fallon closed his tribute by saying “Kobe, when we meet again, we're going on a beer run."

Photo: Getty Images

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