Basketball fans gathered across Los Angeles on Tuesday to remember Kobe Bryant, one year to the day after the former NBA superstar perished in a helicopter crash with daughter Gianna and seven others.
Fans laid flowers and Los Angeles Lakers memorabilia at a makeshift memorial outside the Staples Center, the arena where Bryant became a city icon during a two-decade playing career.
Bryant, 41, his daughter and fellow passengers died on January 26 last year when the helicopter they were travelling in slammed into a hillside in Calabasas in foggy conditions.
In a post on Instagram, Bryant’s widow Vanessa published a letter she had received from one of her daughter’s best friends which read in part:
“You have probably heard this, but if I ever become a mom, I hope my daughter turns out exactly as yours did.”
Vanessa Bryant added in the post:
“I miss my baby girl and Kob-Kob so much, too. I will never understand why/how this tragedy could’ve happened to such beautiful, kind and amazing human beings. It still doesn’t seem real.”
Bryant’s former Lakers team-mate Pau Gasol was among those who tweeted their messages of remembrance.
“I miss you, hermano… not a day goes by that you are not present in what I do,” the Spanish international wrote.
“Your spirit, your drive, your ambition, your love… continues to shine in my life and in many others. … I hope you and Gigi are smiling down seeing how strong, sweet and amazing your girls are.”
Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson simply posted a picture of himself in Lakers uniform alongside Bryant.
“Kobe will always be my Lakers brother for life,” Johnson wrote.