‘Mamba Out’: emotional farewell to Kobe Bryant
THERE was here wasn't a dry eye at the Staples Center as the Los Angeles Lakers delivered an emotional yet fitting tribute to legendary guard Kobe Bryant.
The city of LA, and the Lakers franchise came together to honour Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna after they were tragically killed in a helicopter accident on Monday (AEST).
Prior to the Lakers' home game against Portland, the club dedicated a powerful tribute to Bryant, who enjoyed a 20-year career in purple and gold, winning five championships and making 18 All-Star appearances.
A sell-out crowd was in attendance as the ceremony opened with R&B artist Usher singing a powerful rendition of Amazing Grace as the fans chanted, "Kobe" and "MVP".
The big screen then played a video of Bryant's career highlights at the Lakers before there was 24.2 second moment of silence to honour the shooting guard, his daughter and the seven other victims from Monday's tragedy.
Hip hop vocal group Boyz to Men, who hail from Bryant's hometown of Philadelphia, appropriately sang the American national anthem.
A teary Lakers star LeBron James delivered a heartfelt speech about Bryant's influence on the franchise and the game of basketball.
"I know at some point we will have a memorial for Kobe, but I look at this as a celebration," James said.
"This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken down body, the getting up and sitting down, the determination to be as great as he could.
"Tonight we celebrate the kid who came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became one of the best.
"Kobe is a brother to me. From the time I was in high school to getting in the league and watching him up close, plus all the battles we had, the one thing that we always shared was that determination to just want to win and be great.
"We now want to continue Kobe's legacy, not only for this year, but for as long as we can play the game of basketball, because that is what Kobe would have wanted.
"So in the words of Kobe Bryant - Mamba Out."
Fans put together a shrine of Bryant memorabilia, flowers and well-wishes in the forecourt outside of the Staples Center.
The franchise also put aside two seats for Bryant and his daughter Gianna, accompanied with their basketball singlets and rose petals.
Gianna's junior basketball teammates were also in attendance, sitting in the front row.
James praised the Los Angeles community for rallying together through adversity.
"The first thing that comes to mind is all about family," he said.
"And as I look around this arena, we are all grieving, we are all hurt and we are all heartbroken.
"When we are going through things like this, the best thing to do is lean on the shoulders of your family.
"And from Sunday morning all the way to this point, that is what I've seen this week."