Fans React to Emotional Lakers Tribute to Kobe Bryant (And Yes, You Will Cry)

Reactions to the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and eight others have been heartbreaking, at best. Nearly a week later and many are struggling with disbelief that the tragedy happened in the first place, including the Los Angeles Lakers. The team honored Bryant during the Jan. 31 game, but it’s the fan response to the event that will have you reaching for more tissues.

The Los Angeles Lakers paid an emotional tribute to Bryant, eight others

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers honor Kobe Bryant and daughter Gigi by covering the courtside seats they occupied last time they attended a Lakers game | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It’s never easy to begin again after something so devastating happens. However, the Lakers became Kobe Bryant’s home team for 20 seasons. They made every attempt to do just that.

Fans filled the Staples Center to the brim to commemorate the life and death of Bryant and eight others killed in last Sunday’s crash. For the first game since new broke, tributes included performances by Usher, who sang “Amazing Grace,” and cellist, Ben Hong.

Those acts are tough to follow but Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth brought the house to tears with their video-montage-accompanied rendition of “See You Again.”

Afterwards, Puth reflected on Twitter, comparing the loss of Bryant to Fast & Furious actor, Paul Walker, who died in a car accident and who the song was originally written for.

“It was such an honor to sing ‘See You Again’ for Kobe and Paul in one day,” he wrote. “Wiz and I flew across the country and just barely made it to the game! Thank you to everyone that helped make this happen today and to the LAPD for helping us get there on time.”

Before the game began, the NBA announced a $100,000 donation to the foundation in partnership with the National Basketball Players Association, along with 2020 jerseys for the All-Star Game to feature a tribute to all victims of the crash.

The teams will represent numbers 2 and 24, for Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. There will also be patches adorned with nine stars to remember each victim.

LeBron James led the team with an emotional speech about his friend

The Lakers didn’t win the Jan. 31 game against the Portland Trailblazers, but it doesn’t matter. Friend and teammate, LeBron James set the tone for the game with a few words about Bryant.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Gianna Bryant’s Mamba Academy teammates were in attendance at the game

Mama Academy teammates of Gianna’s were among the thousands in attendance. They sat in the front row. One important person missing from the scene is that of Bryant’s wife, Vanessa. She did, however, post on Instagram at the time of the game.

“There is no #24 without #2,” Vanessa, 37, wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of her daughter and husband’s jerseys on their seats at the game, adding: “#GirlDaddy #DaddysGirl #MyBabies #OurAngels.”

After the game, Vanessa posted to her Instagram story. The photo showed a purple and gold sunset to honor her husband who wore the colors throughout his career.

Here’s what fans are saying about the Lakers tribute

“Today @KingJames became a true Laker in all the hearts of Laker Nation!” this fan wrote. “Laker Nation, Philly’s heart breaks with you. Kobe was one of us, and one of you. Prayers to the Bryant family, all the other families, the Lakers organization and fans,” another fan added.

“That was a beautiful ceremony. I cried but this was a different type of crying than the rest of the week. It felt better afterwards,” this person tweeted. “

“Legends NEVER die. You will forever live in our hearts, Kobe. Thank you for the wonderful yrs you gave to @Lakers fans,” this fan posted.

The Lakers post of James’ speech for Bryant has nearly 1,000 comments, 85,000 retweets, and 323,000 likes proving the NBA superstar may be gone, but never forgotten.