The Lakers held a lovely celebration in honor of Kobe Bryant on Friday, Jan. 31, the date of the team's first home game since the athlete's death. And according to Magic Johnson, the whole ceremony was a fitting and emotional tribute to the late icon.
On Twitter, Johnson posted photos of himself and his family (all donning either Bryant's #8 or #24 jerseys) attending the event. He highlighted that the ceremony featured numerous musical performances, including a rendition of "Amazing Grace" by Usher and a cello solo from Ben Hong. Unsurprisingly, these tributes "brought everyone to tears," as he related.
The Lakers' tribute comes almost a week after the news of Bryant's death was originally reported. As you've likely heard, the former Laker was involved in a helicopter crash that resulted in his death and the deaths of the other eight people onboard including his daughter, Gianna.
Usher singing Amazing Grace, Boyz II Men singing the National Anthem, and Ben Hong with the cello tribute brought everyone to tears. We will always love Kobe and he will be forever in our hearts. 💛💜 pic.twitter.com/uImztevMNe— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 1, 2020
The ceremony didn't just feature performances by the likes of Usher and Wiz Khalifa (who sang "See You Again" with Charlie Puth for the halftime portion of the game). The game actually kicked off with a speech from current Laker, and Bryant's friend, LeBron James.
"Alyssa Altobelli. John Altobelli. Keri Altobelli. Payton Chester. Sarah Chester. Christina Mauser. Ara Zobayan. Gianna Bryant. And Kobe Bryant," he began, listing off the names of all nine victims who died in the Jan. 26 crash.
"I got something written down, they asked me to kind of stay on course or whatever the case may be," James said. "But Laker Nation, man, I would be selling y'all short if I read off this s— so I'm going to go straight from the heart."
"Now, I know at some point, we will have a memorial for Kobe," he continued. "But I look at this as a celebration tonight. This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the getting up, the sitting down, the everything. The countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be. Tonight, we celebrate the kid that came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we've seen over the past three years, man."
"Tonight is a celebration," James said.