The Los Angeles Lakers are planning to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at their first home game since the NBA legend’s death on Sunday.
Jerseys bearing Bryant’s name and numbers — 24 and 8 — have been draped over seats at the Staples Center before the Lakers tip off against the Portland Trailblazers Friday night.
Bryant’s numbers and initials also have been emblazoned on the basketball court and “KB” will appear on Lakers’ jerseys.
Bryant played for the Lakers for 20 years, and both of his numbers were retired by the organization after his retirement in 2016.
“We are devastated and have been forever changed by the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. We send our love to Vanessa, the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers,” the Lakers organization said in a statement on Wednesday. “Words cannot express what Kobe means to the Los Angeles Lakers, our fans, and our city. More than a basketball player, he was a beloved father, husband, and teammate. Their love and light will remain in our hearts forever.”
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were two of nine victims who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Jan. 26 in Calbasas, California.
They are survived by Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, and his three daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
“There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever,” Vanessa Bryant wrote on Instagram Wednesday. “They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way.”
She also announced that the Mamba Sports Foundation launched a fund to support the other families affected by the tragedy.
“Our love for them is endless,” she wrote. “And that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”