The Los Angeles Lakers returned to the Staples Center for their first game back following the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, who lost his life along with his daughter Gigi in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Jan. 25. The team’s return came with a touching tribute to the late NBA legend.
Frank Vogel, head coach of the Lakers, paid homage to the late baller with his choice of footwear. The 46-year-old, who normally wears dress shoes during games, laced up the Nike Kobe 4, one of the most acclaimed looks from Bryant’s signature sneaker line with Nike. Bryant was a longtime Nike athlete and his Kobe signature line launched in 2005, two years after signing with the brand.
The game also began with musical performances and speeches in Bryant’s honor. Usher played “Amazing Grace” alongside a video montage on the scoreboard, and Boys II Men sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Current Lakers star and Bryant friend, LeBron James, also made a touching speech before the game in which he talked about his relationship with the basketball icon, as well as the incredible career of the “Black Mamba,” as he was known The Lakers also paid tribute to the seven other people who died in the crash.
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