LOS ANGELES – Patient and mourning Lakers fans lined up outside Staples Center before the crack of dawn. Around 8:30 a.m. PT, arena workers opened the doors for those attending Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s public memorial service.
Fans that entered the building received a T-Shirt showing Kobe and Gianna Bryant embracing each other in three different images. On the back of the T-Shirt read "Bryant" along with the jersey numbers for Gianna (2) and Kobe (24) underneath. Gianna wore that number for her AAU basketball team, “Team Mamba.” Kobe wore No. 24 from 2006 to 2016 after previously wearing No. 8 from 1996 to 2006.
Fans also received a program titled “A Celebration of Life: Kobe & Gianna Bryant.” The program does not indicate the memorial’s itinerary, including any planned speakers. The memorial is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.
While it required a mobile ticket to enter the arena, attendees were given a commemorative ticket featuring a young Gianna hugging her dad: section 8, row 24, seat 2.
Those attending Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial are receiving this T-Shirt and this program pic.twitter.com/Jfi44r6waV
Front and back the Kobe and Gianna Celebration of Life program and the front and back of the commemorative ticket. pic.twitter.com/s4LfagEduI
Fans lucky enough to purchase tickets via a Ticketmaster pre-registered sale paid between $24.02 to $242 (another nod to the jersey numbers) for a seat in Staples Center, which holds about 20,000.
Those who didn't gain entrance can watch the live stream here. The service also will be shown on local TV in Southern California.
Bryant, who spent his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers and helped them to five NBA championships, was killed in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna; John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser; Sarah and Payton Chester; and pilot Ara Zobayan.
The group was en route to an AAU basketball game at Bryant's Mamba Sports Complex in Thousand Oaks, California, when the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas.
An investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.
Contributing: Jeff Zillgitt
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