Hundreds came to Dignity Health Sports Complex Friday evening to show their love and respect for the late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who passed away along with his daughter Gigi and seven others on Jan. 26 during a tragic helicopter crash in the Calabasas hillside.
Attendees gathered in the lobby of the complex at a memorial that featured Bryant’s two Lakers jerseys, electric candles, a poster honoring those who perished in the helicopter accident, a photo of Bryant’s daughter Gigi and purple and gold mylar balloons. Below the display, a chalk mural was etched onto the ground that included a variety of tributes to Bryant and his daughter.
“I wanted to do something (for Bryant) and then I found out we were having this memorial and after that it was a must-do (to create a mural in his honor),” said Jeremiah Oglesby, a chalk artist who also coaches at the sports complex.
Oglesby, a native of Los Angeles, said he considered Bryant a “hero.”
Above the memorial, Bryant’s career highlights were played on a loop, along with videos of current and former NBA players remembering the fallen superstar.
In addition to the display the sports complex put together, attendees brought droves of their own tributes which included candles, balloons, flowers, stuffed animals and Lakers gear. People of all generations and backgrounds contributed something to the memorial.
Winston Crite, co-organizer of the vigil and social media manager at the complex, emceed the program. To start off the program, Crite read an excerpt from a poem written by Bryant called “Dear Basketball.”
“Bakersfield needs this. Being such a big Lakers town, I wanted (the sports complex) to be a place where people can gather and stand together when something like this happens,” Crite said.
During the vigil, pastor Alberto Bello from First Assembly Church reflected on the life and faith of Bryant through a sermon. Additionally, Gage Navarro, a local singer, performed an a cappella version of an original song he originally wrote for his mother, who passed away two years ago.