It is still not clear where LeBron James was during the "Celebration of Life" memorial for Kobe Bryant on Monday. Reporters from ESPN have spoken to James' agent and only learned that he was "in his own space" during the service. Many are still wondering if he was in the building.
LeBron James was famously close with Bryant, communicating with him regularly right up until his tragic passing last month. Some fans were surprised not to see James at the Staples Center on Monday, when 20,000 people gathered to honor Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
Reporters from ESPN spoke about the absence at length, noting that people on site at the memorial did not recall seeing James there. The statement from his agent seemed ambiguous.
ESPN #Lakers beat writer Dave McMenamin speaks about not being able to confirm LeBron James’ presence at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service today. Rich Paul had told Stephen A. Smith “he’s in his own space.” Not really sure what that meant pic.twitter.com/ij5Nsj0Jsl— Chris Camello (@Chris_Camello) February 25, 2020
"I spoke to several members of the Lakers who were there today, and they didn't see LeBron," said ESPN's Dave McMenamin on Tuesday. "Rich Paul, his agent, told our Stephen A. Smith that 'LeBron is in his own space,' and space could be somewhere away from the Staples Center, or it could be in a different part of the Staples Center."
Fans were torn over this story, wanting to see James standing by the Bryants yet also wanting him to have the space to grieve alone if he needed it. McMenamin noted that James had called Bryant's death "the hardest week of [his] life," so it was understandable if he wanted to stay away from the tearful memorial.
"Honestly let everyone [grieve] in their own way," one person tweeted.
Man @KingJames HAD BETTER NOT explain where he was yesterday or why he wasn’t visible. He don’t owe ANYONE an explanation. Skip is really a disgusting & despicable human being— BEAN 🏁🏁🏁 (@MGRADS) February 25, 2020
"LeBron owes no one an explanation about his whereabouts yesterday. We all seen the video of him crying at that airport," wrote a third. "He's grieving like all of us. Whether he was there or not is not our business."0comments
Some of Bryant's other colleagues and former teammates gave speeches at the memorial, including Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jordan. Jordan broke down in tears during his eulogy, which was emotional for fans everywhere.
"What Kobe Bryant was to me was the inspiration that someone truly cared about the way I play the game or the way that he wanted to play the game." Jordan said. "He wanted to be the best basketball player he could be. As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be."