LeBron James gave a loving eulogy to his 'brother' Kobe Bryant before the Lakers first game since tragic helicopter accident
The Los Angeles Lakers offered an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant on Friday night before their first game since his tragic death. After a series of performances and a video remembrance, LeBron James walked out to the center of the court to give a speech in honor of the Lakers legend. LeBron James had a speech prepared, but threw it aside in favor of speaking from the heart while speaking about his "brother."
Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
LeBron James offered a loving remembrance of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant on Friday night at the Staples Center. The Lakers were set to play the Portland Trail Blazers in their first game since Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday just outside Los Angeles, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others on board. Ahead of the game, the team and fans celebrated Bryant's life with a number of tributes, from wearing No. 8 and 24 during pregame warmups and a 24-second moment of silence, to performances by Usher, Boyz II Men, and cellist Ben Hong. After those ceremonies, LeBron took the center of the court. James first acknowledged all of those affected by the tragedy, reading off the names of all nine victims on board. He then pulled out a piece of paper. "Now, I've got something written down. They asked me to kind of stay on course," James began. "But Laker Nation I would be selling you short if I read from this s---, so I'm gonna speak from the heart." LeBron told the crowd to "lean on the shoulders of their family," and celebrated Laker Nation and how the team and its fans had come together over their week of mourning. "Now I know at some point we'll have a memorial for Kobe, but I look at this as a celebration tonight," James said. "Kobe is a brother to me," James said. "From the time I was in high school, watching him from afar, to getting in this league at 18, watching him up close. All of the battles that we had throughout my career. The one thing that we always shared was that determination to just want to win, and just want to be great. And the fact that I'm here now means so much to me. I want to continue along with my teammates, to continue his legacy not only for this year, but for as long as we can play the game of basketball, because that's what Kobe Bryant would want." "So in the words of Kobe Bryant, 'Mamba Out.' But in the of us, 'Not forgotten.' Live on brother."
James and Bryant shared a close relationship as NBA peers, Team USA teammates, and as Los Angeles Lakers. The day before Bryant's death, James had passed him for third-place on the all-time NBA scoring list. Bryant's last tweet was congratulating James for his accomplishment and his continuing effort to "move the game forward." With his speech on Friday night, James did just that.
Vanessa Bryant announced a fund to direct donations to other families of victims of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna 'My spirit just left my body': Shaquille O'Neal gives an emotional speech about teammate Kobe Bryant Jimmy Fallon shares a story about meeting Kobe Bryant at a party and going on a beer run in a touching tribute to the Lakers legend Tracy McGrady says Kobe Bryant used to tell him early in his career that he wanted to 'die young' and be 'immortalized' How Kobe Bryant became one of the NBA's all-time greatest players and an almost mythical figure in the processJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 5 things about the NFL that football fans may not know