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Lakers, fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna

Southern California slowed to a crawl on Sunday after news surfaced that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among the nine that perished in a helicopter crash that morning. The Lakers and their fans all mourned the loss.

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Mia Agraviador for Silver Screen and Roll

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — It’s possible no athlete resonated with Lakers fans and NBA players quite like Kobe Bryant.

Bryant is frequently cited by other players who faced him as the toughest cover they’ve ever been asked to check, and fans of the Lakers and Los Angeles natives speak of him with a borderline religious reverence. As a child growing up in Southern California, I thought Kobe beef was named after him, not the other way around.

The city, the organization and the NBA as a whole were in mourning on Sunday when news surfaced that Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California early in the morning on their way to a basketball game. Nowhere was the impact felt more profoundly and collectively than at the epicenter: Los Angeles and its surrounding cities.

Hundreds stormed the area around Staples Center to mourn, refusing to heed officials who didn’t want them there due to the Grammy awards that night. The Lakers — who cancelled practice for Monday as the organization grieves — essentially invited fans to pay their respects to Bryant with them, making the rare move of opening up the security gates of their practice facility so that supporters could have a place to set up an impromptu vigil for Bryant and his daughter.

Here are some photos of the scene:

Mourners gather outside the UCLA Health Training Center — where the Lakers practice and have their corporate offices — in El Segundo, California.
Mia Agraviador for Silver Screen and Roll
Fans and mourners honored Kobe’s No. 24 jersey with candles.
Mia Agraviador for Silver Screen and Roll
Flowers at the memorial for the Bryant’s outside the UCLA Health Training Center.
Mia Agraviador for Silver Screen and Roll
A message for Kobe from a mourner on the memorial wall.
Mia Agraviador for Silver Screen and Roll
A mourner places candles at the memorial for Bryant.
Mia Agraviador for Silver Screen and Roll
Fans left teddy bears, dolls, jerseys, basketballs and more at the memorial.
Mia Agraviador for Silver Screen and Roll

Players and other members of the organization haven’t said much publicly, but these losses have hit the team hard. LeBron James looked forlorn in footage of him walking off the team plane in Los Angeles, and Jared Dudley said the whole traveling party was similarly affected:

He wasn’t the only Laker to post on social media. Here’s a brief snapshot of those who have, and a reminder that this team might be taking all of this just as hard or harder than all of us are:

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Always Inspired!

A post shared by Javale Pierre {2X} McGee (@javalemcgee) on

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Repost-@overtime ❤️ #Mambacita #Mamba

A post shared by Troy Daniels (@troydaniels30) on

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In June of 1996 I had the pleasure of picking up a 17 year old high school phenom at his hotel in Santa Monica to drive him to his workout for the Lakers. Years later he told me that was his first time ever on the 405 freeway. I can remember that day like yesterday. This was my first time seeing him up close and watching him on the floor was the most specaturlar thing I’ve ever seen at such a young age. I dropped him back off at the hotel and as he got out of the car he said “ I can’t wait to be a Laker someday.” We winked at each other, embraced, and I said to him “it’s going to happen.” Fast forward to his first summer league game in Long Beach, the 17 year old kid in front of a packed house, scored an easy 29 points against grown men. After the game I asked him how he felt the game went, his response, in typical Kobe fashion “that was easier than I thought.” I will always cherish the times we spent together during the early part of his career. From our talks in the locker room prior to every Laker home game, to the times we spent at his house after games, talking about life and basketball. Being there from day 1, from his first workout, it was amazing to watch him grow to a larger than life presence. He went on to not only become a Laker, but the GREATEST LAKER of all time. I was his number 1 fan from day 1 and his legacy will live forever in all of our hearts. I’m completely broken right now. RIP Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

A post shared by Ryan West (@ryan_west79) on

The Lakers next play on Tuesday against the Clippers. The NBA played games as scheduled on Sunday, making a cancellation seemingly unlikely, but with emotions this raw, it’s not impossible we see some type of rescheduling. Stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for updates, and take some time today to tell your loved ones you care about them. Let’s all support each other.

Mia Agraviador contributed to this story. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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