Kobe Bryant fans are lining up around the Staples Center as they wait to celebrate the life and legacy of the late NBA star and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, both of whom were among the nine victims of a tragic Jan. 26 helicopter crash. Ahead of the public memorial, one attendee waiting in line shared photos of the Kobe and Gianna tributes still evident on the pavement outside the arena alongside a jersey selfie, revealing that the doors had yet to be opened with an hour until the start time.
Waiting for the doors to @STAPLESCenter to open for the #kobememorial #KobeandGianna tributes on Chick Hearn Court still on the ground. The ones at Star Plaza @LALIVE have been cleared and cleaned. pic.twitter.com/x23Bl9p546— Dennis Pascual (@dennis_p) February 24, 2020
While the public memorial service is planned to allow people all over the world to mourn Kobe and Gianna's legacy, the father-daughter duo were laid to rest in a private funeral earlier this month in Orange County. Ahead of the family service, Kobe's widow, Vanessa Bryant, penned an emotional message about the devastating loss of her husband and daughter on Instagram.
"I've been reluctant to put my feelings into words. My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone," Vanessa wrote. "I can't process both at the same time. It's like I'm trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong."
"Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn't being able to have that opportunity?!" she continued. "I'm so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters. Mad I'm not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I'm here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri."
Vanessa's anger and grief were "normal," she knew, "I just wanted to share in case there's anyone out there that's experienced a loss like this."
"God I wish they were here and this nightmare would be over," she concluded. "Praying for all of the victims of this horrible tragedy. Please continue to pray for all."
The celebration of life public memorial for the Bryants is being held at the Staples Center Monday at 10 a.m. PT. The service will also be live-streamed for those who weren't able to purchase tickets. Click here for more info.
Photo credit: Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images