At Saturday's NAACP Image Awards, the loss of Kobe Bryant lingered in the air. Many could assume that the awards would pay tribute to Bryant during the show, possibly giving him the show's sports awards posthumously.
Named after Jackie Robinson, the award was given annually until 1999 when it was retired after being awarded to Michael Jordan.The award made a return in 2017 and has been included in the press ahead of the event on Saturday night.
But instead, the Image Awards gave a special moment to Bryant and his daughter Gianna at the close of their In Memoriam segment. While others were given spotlight during the video package, with the prominent among the group of those lost having their voices included in the montage, Bryant was different.
A solitary basketball was given spotlight on stage, while Bryant's voice echoed throughout the theater. His farewell speech as a Laker narrated his career before ending on a photo of him and his daughter. To close it out, a pair of digital banners unfurled beside the screen as the telecast faded to black.
The NAACP was one of the earliest groups to speak out on the loss of Bryant after the tragic helicopter crash that took his life, his daughter Gianna, and 7 others on the morning of Jan. 26 in California.
"Today we mourn the loss of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant. Your presence on and off the court will truly be missed. Our prayers go out to the Bryant family and to all affected by this tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones," the statement from the organization read.
The organization also posted on Instagram following the Lakers legend's tragic passing, including a picture of Bryant in a grey suit while holding a black basketball.
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"We remember Kobe Bryant - the consummate athlete, producer and humanitarian. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones," the caption read on the photo.0comments
Bryant was laid to rest alongside his daughter earlier in the week following a series of tributes across the nation, including several by the NBA. The All-Star Game in Chicago was reworked to represent Bryant and pay tribute to his contributions to the sport.
A public memorial will be held on Monday, Feb. 24 at Staples Center.