The LA Lakers paid an emotional tribute to their former player Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
In the team’s first game since they and seven others died in a helicopter crash last week, the franchise remembered the player’s 20-year career with the team.
To commemorate the NBA legend’s life, Lakers players wore shirts with Bryant’s numbers – eight and 24 – during their warm-up, and the initials KB were printed on the court.
The team also placed Kobe’s 24 jersey and Gianna’s Mamba strip on two court-side seats where they watched their last game together.
Each of the Lakers players was then also introduced as “Number eight, Kobe Bryant.”
Singer Usher, stood in front of a bunch of yellow roses arranged the the shape of Bryant’s jersey, then sang an emotionally charged rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’.
“Tonight we celebrate the kid that came here at 18, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we’ve seen over the last three years.” pic.twitter.com/0sS7e91cuz
– Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 1, 2020
Current player LeBron James led the tributes to the pair.
He said: “This is a celebration of the 20 years of sweat, the tears, the broken down body, the getting up.
“Sitting down to everything, the countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be.
“Tonight we celebrate the kid who came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became the best dad we’ve seen over the last three years.”
The seven other passengers who also lost their lives last Sunday were: basketball coach John Altobelli; his wife, Keri; and their daughter Alyssa; Payton Chester and her mother Sarah; Christina Mauser; and pilot Ara Zobayan.
The LA Lakers player pulled up his shorts during a training session to show the image of a Black Mamba on his thigh.
The tattoo is a reference to Bryant who was known as Mamba by fans and friends around the world.
Fellow Lakers player Anthony Davis also commemorated the NBA legend and posted a video on his Instagram page of him getting a tattoo done.
James, who overtook Bryant as the third highest points scorer in NBA history just the day before his death, also penned a tribute to his friend.
Writing on Instagram, the 35-year-old said: “I’m not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had!
“I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!!
“I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!
“Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man!
“You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this s*** on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me!
“I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!!”