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Kobe Bryant fans flock to vigils held for basketball star

NBA legend Kobe Bryant killed in helicopter crash near Los Angeles
Former Lakers player and basketball legend Kobe Bryant was killed along with eight others in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles.

Vigils mourning the loss of basketball icon Kobe Bryant have been popping up all over America, and fans have been visiting en masse.

Thousands of fans gathered at a makeshift memorial for Bryant, who died along with eight other people in a helicopter crash just before 10 a.m. Sunday morning, around the Staples Center where the 2020 Grammys are being held.

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READ MORE: Kobe Bryant killed in helicopter crash near Los Angeles

Hundreds of people dressed in purple-and-yellow Lakers gear mingled with people showing up for the music awards show outside the Los Angeles arena.

“I’m literally in Staples Center right now,” ESPN senior writer Justin Tinsley tweeted. “Everyone has the same look of loss right now. We’re all zombies. Surreal doesn’t even begin to describe what it feels like.”

Many were decked out in Bryant’s jersey number of 24, and some went by Calabasas to see the crash site, which was blocked off by emergency responders.

On Sunday night, Toronto’s CN Tower changed its colours to yellow and purple in honour of the NBA legend’s death.

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Los Angeles Lakers fan Victor Chavez, 30, of Los Angeles, mourns the death of retired NBA star Kobe Bryant outside the Staples Center prior to the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 26, 2020.
Los Angeles Lakers fan Victor Chavez, 30, of Los Angeles, mourns the death of retired NBA star Kobe Bryant outside the Staples Center prior to the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on Jan. 26, 2020. Getty Images

Multiple basketball games the day of his death paid tribute to the fallen athlete, including the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, as well as the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs game.

Raptors, Spurs run out 24 second shot clock in honour of Kobe Bryant
Raptors, Spurs run out 24 second shot clock in honour of Kobe Bryant

The publication reports that fans chanted “Kobe” for 24 seconds before the start of the New York City game.

Fans mourn the loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Fans mourn the loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Harrison Hill-USA TODAY

READ MORE: Canadian basketball community pays tribute to Kobe Bryant

Flowers were also left outside of Bryant’s high school in Pennsylvania where he played basketball, according to ABC.

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The Lakers have also created outside their training facility for fans to pay tribute to Bryant.

Fans have also been gathering around a vigil held outside of Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park, Calif.

READ MORE: Celebrities react to Kobe Bryant’s death: ‘My heart is in pieces’

The former basketball star is survived by wife Vanessa Bryant and their three children, Natalie, 17, Bianca, 3, and seven-month old Capri.

Mourners gather in Microsoft Square near the Staples Center to pay respects to Kobe Bryant after a helicopter crash killed the retired basketball star, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 26, 2020.
Mourners gather in Microsoft Square near the Staples Center to pay respects to Kobe Bryant after a helicopter crash killed the retired basketball star, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

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meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca