R&B veteran Usher performed an emotional rendition of the hymn "Amazing Grace" as the Los Angeles Lakers honored Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the victims of the tragic helicopter crash. Just before the Los Angeles Lakers played a home game on Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Staples Center turned into a celebration and a wake, featuring musical performances, video tributes and speeches.
Usher's performance was accompanied by a video showing how fans, fellow basketball players and athletes across sports and across the world mourned for Bryant. Usher sang "Amazing Grace" beside floral arrangements of Bryant's two jersey numbers, 8 and 24.
Following Usher's performance, the Lakers played a six-minute tribute video to Bryant highlighting his career accomplishments with voiceover provided by the basketball legend. Los Angeles Philharmonic cellist Ben Hong accompanied the video live at center court.
R&B group Boyz II Men sang a rendition of the national anthem, and Lakers guard LeBron James addressed the crowd.
"I know, at some point, we will have a memorial for Kobe, but I look at this as a celebration tonight," James said. "This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the getting up, the sitting down, the countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be."
Earlier Friday, James revealed on his Instagram that he had gotten a new tattoo in Bryant's honor on his left thigh. It was a black snake with the inscription "Mamba 4 Life."
"In the words of Kobe Bryant, Mamba out," he told the fans, "But in the words of us, not forgotten. Live on, brother."