AP Source: Bryant memorial set for Feb. 24 at Staples Center
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A public memorial service for Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others killed in a helicopter crash is planned for Feb. 24 at Staples Center, a person with knowledge of the details told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The arena is where Bryant starred for the Los Angeles Lakers for most of his two-decade career and the date 2/24 corresponds with the No. 24 jersey he wore and the No. 2 worn by his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
No official announcement about the memorial has been made. The person who provided the information to the AP is knowledgeable about the planning and spoke only on condition of anonymity. The Los Angeles Times was first to report the event, citing two anonymous sources with knowledge of the planning.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said a memorial would be held but his office had no immediate comment, nor did the Lakers or Staples Center.
Bryant was killed when the helicopter carrying him, his daughter and the others crashed into a mountainside in Calabasas, California, while flying to a girls basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy. Gianna’s team was coached by Bryant and was playing in the tournament.
No cause for the crash has been determined, though a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board is expected soon.
Fans spontaneously swarmed Staples Center within hours of the Jan. 26 crash, creating a massive memorial of flowers, balloons, jerseys, stuffed toys and basketballs. The items were removed Monday and fans were urged to donate to a Bryant foundation rather than bring more gifts and flowers.
Bryant’s widow Vanessa had requested some items, which were to be cataloged and shipped to the family. Flowers will be composted and spread around plants near Staples Center.
Staples, which opened in 1999, has played host to other memorials, including for Michael Jackson and, last year, for rapper Nipsey Hussle. Bryant, who joined the NBA in 1996, played for the Lakers at the Forum for three seasons.
The Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies have a 7:30 p.m. game the same day at the arena.
A public memorial for Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa will be held Feb. 10 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Also killed in the crash were pilot Ara Zobayan and Bryant friends Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton.