Kobe Bryant

VIDEO: Lakers Deliver Touching Tribute to Kobe Bryant

The Lakers delivered a heartfelt tribute to legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna before their first game since the tragic accident on Sunday

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I hope you have a box of tissues nearby.

The Los Angeles Lakers opened up their doors and their hearts to a sold out crowd at Staples Center on Friday night.

It was the first time the organization that Kobe Bryant played with for 20 years took the court for a game after the helicopter crash that killed nine people, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

Before the game, the Lakers set the stage to honor Kobe and Gianna Bryant. The numbers 8 and 24 were on full display upon the hardwood court, and every fan in attendance had a purple and gold Kobe Bryant T-shirt with the numbers 8 and 24 on the front and back.

The Lakers will honor Kobe Bryant throughout the remainder of the season by wearing a black "KB" patch on their jerseys.

Lakers' guard Quinn Cook, who wears the No. 2, said he was going to retire the number in honor of Bryant's daughter, Gianna, who also wore the No. 2. Cook switched to the No. 28 to honor both Kobe and Gianna.

The Laker players arrived at the arena wearing Kobe Bryant jerseys, and they hung his jersey in the locker room as they dressed and prepared for the game.

The organization asked fans to arrive at Staples Center and be in their seats by 7:00 p.m. PST for the pregame ceremony, and the fans listened. The arena was at capacity by the time the lights went out and Usher took the floor.

Singing in front of two floral arrangements in the shapes of the numbers 8 and 24, Usher sang a beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace," as a tribute video to Kobe played on the video screen at center court.

Following Usher's performance, cellist Ben Hong performed as the most incredible, heartbreaking, heartwarming and soul-touching tribute video that used sound bytes of the Kobe Bryant's words.

Following the emotional videos, the Lakers put 24.2 seconds on the shot clock and held a 24.2 second moment of silence in honor of Kobe, Gianna and all the victims of the horrific tragedy.

After the moment of silence, Lakers' forward LeBron James walked to center court and delivered an elegant speech from the heart in honor of his big brother, Kobe. The nearly four-minute speech struck the perfect tone and ended on a hopeful note. "In the words of Kobe Bryant, 'Mamba out,'" James said. "In the words of us, 'Never forgotten.'"

After LeBron's speech, the players went back to the bench for pregame introductions. In an incredibly classy and poignant moment, veteran PA announcer Lawrence Tanter introduced every player of the Lakers' starting lineup as number 24, 6’6, 20th season from Lower Merion High School...Kobe Bryant!

The tributes didn't stop there. As the Lakers took the court for the opening tip-off, JaVale McGee tipped the jump ball back to LeBron James who dribbled up the court and stopped until the 24-second clock ran out for a violation. The Portland Trail Blazers inbounded the ball to Damian Lillard who just held it in the backcourt for an 8-second violation.

Throughout the game, the Lakers played tribute to Bryant by showing video highlights of his greatest moments on the screen during timeouts and between quarters. Players wore No. 24 tape, arm bands, headbands and socks, and each player and member of the coaching staff wore Kobe's signature Nike shoes.

As they've been since Sunday's 62nd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony at Staples Center, Kobe Bryant's retired No. 8 and 24 jerseys were illuminated in the rafters and have remained there alone for the entire week.

Finally, earlier in the week, Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony told reporters that he had just spoken to Kobe before his death, and that Bryant told him he would be attending the game with Gianna on Friday.

Anthony did not play in the game for personal reasons, but the Lakers made sure that Kobe and Gianna still had their seats, as they left two courtside seats open with flowers and their jerseys on the back.

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