LOS ANGELES — Throughout the weekend fans continued packing the plaza, especially on an emotional Friday night as the Lakers took the court for the first time since Kobe Bryant’s death.
While the stadium was packed, thousands came to LA Live closely watching television monitors as the Lakers paid tribute to the nine lives lost in the recent helicopter crash that also killed Fil-Am basketball coach Christina Mauser.
Everly Freebird and her family bought their tickets last Christmas, and they said they never would have guessed how significant the game would be.
“Excited Kasi diba makakapanaood kami ng LA Lakers vs. Portland tapos meron din kasi tribute.”
“We’re excited because not only were we able to each the Lakers vs Portland, there’s also the tribute.”
When it was known that the game would become a tribute to Bryant, tickets began selling in the thousands. But even without tickets, fans continued to flock to the Staples Center as they have all week.
“Lakers love. Lakers Love Kobe so everyone is just paying their respects… A lot of fans are mourning. They’re still grieving he was a hero to this city,” said Jacob Evangilista, a longtime Kobe fan.
Besides the many cards, flowers, and artworks at the Staples center that paid tribute to the other victims, the city of Huntington Beach also honored its very own Christina Mauser.
Meanwhile, a public memorial is still being planned for Bryant, while LA Live has begun clearing out the massive shrine outside of the staples center.
While flowers will be composted, the messages and cards will be delivered to the Bryant family.
As the days pass and now that the first Lakers game has played, fans in Los Angeles have a shot at returning to normalcy after the sudden loss of one of the city’s most iconic symbols.