Lakers fans paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant by leaving more than 1,300 basketballs outside the Staples Center

  • Thousands of NBA fans set up a makeshift memorial outside the home of the Los Angeles Lakers as they grappled with Kobe Bryant's death on January 26.

  • Staples Center President Lee Zeidman said on Twitter that people had paid tribute to the nine passengers who died in a helicopter crash with more than 1,300 basketballs, 25,000 candles, 5,000 signs, 500 stuffed toys, 350 pairs of shoes and 14 banners.

  • These items will be cataloged and sent to Vanessa Bryant, who requested the mementos.

  • Fans also brought flowers, which filled a 40-yard trash bin, and will be made into mulch and added to the landscaped areas of the complex, Zeidman said.

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In the days following Kobe Bryant's untimely death in a helicopter accident on January 26, droves of NBA fans flocked to the Staples Center to pay homage to the 20-year Los Angeles Laker. A purple and gold-hued makeshift memorial swelled with thousands of basketballs, flowers, toys, signs, and shoes.

Lee Zeidman, president of the Staples Center, L.A. Live and Microsoft Theater, told the Los Angeles Times on Friday that "contractually obligated events" are moving into the arena. So cleanup began on Monday.

In a series of tweets, Zeidman chronicled the "outpouring of love from the City of Angels in honor of" the nine passengers on board the Sikorsky S-78 that crashed in Calabasas, California, en route to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks. They included Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna; baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter, Alyssa; Mamba Academy basketball coach Christina Mauser; mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester, and pilot Ara Zobayan.

Zeidman said mourners paid tribute in the form of 1,353 basketballs and more than 25,000 candles, 5,000 signs, 500 stuffed toys, 350 pairs of shoes and 14 banners.

Vanessa Bryant has requested the mementos with which fans paid their respects. Zeidman told the Los Angeles Times that the items will be cataloged and delivered to the Bryant family in "specially made containers."

Fans also showered the center with thousands of flowers. They will be made into mulch and added to the landscaped areas around the complex "so that the love of all the fans brought to L.A. Live lives on," Zeidman tweeted.

This idea, he said, stemmed from what England's Manchester Arena did with perishables that were left behind after a terrorist attack at an Arianna Grande concert in 2017 killed 23 people and wounded 139 others.

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