Since his sudden passing, fans have brought well over 1,000 basketballs to the Staples Center in memory of Kobe Bryant.
Mourners paid tribute to late basketball superstar Kobe Bryant in the days following the January 26 helicopter crash that killed him, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other passengers. Aside from the 1,353 balls, visitors also left approximately 25,000 candles, 5,000 signs or letters, 500 stuffed animals, 350 pairs of shoes, and 14 banners.
On Twitter, Staples Center President Lee Zeidman shared a picture of the memorial site during cleanup, celebrating the “truly amazing the outpouring of love from the City of Angels.”
We began the cleanup at 4am @LALIVE XBox Plaza and we have now boxed 1353 basketballs dedicated to Kobe and Gianna. Truly amazing the outpouring of love from the City of Angels in honor of the 9 who lost their lives 1/26/20 pic.twitter.com/MUN21LNupH
— Lee Zeidman (@LeeZeidman) February 3, 2020
Unfortunately, business obligations have necessitated the removal of the offerings. “It will have been a week,” Zeidman told the LA Times. “We have contractually obligated events that are moving in [to the arena].” But Kobe’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, did not want to lose them. Zeidman had an answer:
“Vanessa had reached out to us and said, ‘Our family would like the items out there,'” he explained. “So we’re going to catalog every one of them. By that I mean T-shirts, letters, basketballs, stuffed animals, toys. We’re going to put those in specially made containers and we’re going to ship them to the family.”
One special exception was the flowers. Enough to fill a 40-yard dumpster, the fragile tributes will be composted and used as mulch all around the arena in remembrance of the “Black Mamba.”