Flouting police warnings to stay away from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, which is hosting the Grammy Awards on Sunday, fans of basketball legend Kobe Bryant gathered outside the arena to mourn and remember the former Los Angeles Laker.
Several fans told KTLA that “they didn’t know where else to go.”
“THANK YOU, KOBE.”
Hundreds of fans chanted outside the Staples Center to pay tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in Southern California. https://t.co/xdOulVCI6b pic.twitter.com/ujSr5wMYdL
— ABC News (@ABC) January 26, 2020
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion who played with the Lakers for 20 seasons, died in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were also killed in the crash.
Flags outside the Staples Center flew at half mast in honor of Bryant, Variety reported, and images of the athlete were shown on big screens around the arena. The gathered mourners reportedly numbered in the hundreds.
Bryant fans, however, were unable to get too close to the arena because police had cordoned off the building, where the Grammy Awards were set to begin at 5 p.m. local time.
Police urged fans to stay away in order to avoid disrupting the award show, but those warnings appeared to fall on deaf ears, with some fans reminding authorities that the Staples Center is the “house that Kobe built.”
Grammys organizers seemed to agree with this sentiment. The show’s pre-telecast ceremony opened with a tribute to Bryant.
“Since we are in his house, I would ask you to join me in a moment of silence,” Recording Academy’s interim CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told attendees.
Journalists outside the arena described a surreal scene of celebrities arriving in red-carpet outfits for the ceremony, while crowds of mourners cried and chanted Bryant’s name nearby.
The scene outside Staples is surreal. People in Kobe jersey mixed with people in sequined ballgowns for the Grammys. Amid the tears, the crowd breaks into somber applause when this comes on the screen pic.twitter.com/CUMwFmYVF5
— Kavitha A. Davidson (@kavithadavidson) January 26, 2020
WNBA star Chiney Ogwumike and actor Danny Trejo were among the fans at the Staples Center.
“I can’t even believe this is real,” Ogwumike said on Twitter.
I can’t even believe this is real… right now outside Staples. 💔 pic.twitter.com/yuunIbG2Ms
— Chiney Ogwumike (@Chiney321) January 26, 2020
More scenes from outside the Staples Center, below:
Fans have started gathering outside of Staples to pay their respects to Kobe (via ig/cristiansgallardo) pic.twitter.com/l3NHDfPbtX
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 26, 2020
Flowers being set up at LA Live for Kobe Bryant
The Grammys are at Staples Center tonight, so plaza in front is blocked off. Dozens already beginning to gather here pic.twitter.com/6gHUVwGphB
— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) January 26, 2020
Tears 😭and heartbreak 💔 as fans gathered at the Staples Center to remember one of the greatest athletes of all time. Rest In Peace Kobe Bryant. #RIPMamba #RIPKobe
— Henry O (@onos_147) January 26, 2020
Fans gather near the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the Lakers play, to mourn basketball icon Kobe Bryant who died in a helicopter crash Sunday morning pic.twitter.com/fasA1VAwSs
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 26, 2020
The scene at Staples Center pic.twitter.com/5RcuZ18Aof
— Kylie McLogan (@Kylie_McLogan) January 26, 2020
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