The NFL honored Kobe Bryant in an emotional tribute during Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, exactly one week after the NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles.
Both teams stood on the 24-yard line before the game’s start, paying tribute with a moment of silence just ahead of 6 p.m. EST. Bryant, of course, wore number 24 during part of his career.
The tribute came just as the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers face off for the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LIV.
After news of Bryant’s death spread on Jan. 26, athletes around the world found their own ways to honor the five-time champion. NBA teams allowed the 24-second shot clock to run down to zero at the start of games, and players temporarily wore one of Bryant’s numbers while on the court.
On Wednesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell first announced the league planned to honor Bryant and all the victims of the crash during the game.
“I don’t think just Los Angeles is mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant,” he said in the announcement. “I did have the opportunity to meet him. He obviously brought a lot to our world and I think all of us not only feel for the tragic events to his family but as well as everyone else who was a passenger on that helicopter,” Goodell said of victims John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.
“It’s hard to understand and it’s hard to process,” Goodell continued.
Amid the tragedy, Goodell said he is “proud” of “the way our players, the way our league responded, including a moment of silence during the [Pro Bowl] game, put his picture up and the way the fans responded to that.”
Bryant’s former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal also honored him during Super Bowl weekend.
Earlier on Wednesday, O’Neal, 47, announced he decided not to cancel his Shaq’s Funhouse Super Bowl Party and used it as an opportunity to continue to celebrate Bryant.
“Been going back and forth the past couple of days on if I should even have my event in Miami this weekend. Part of me wanted to stay to myself as I reflect what my brother and his family mean to me and my family,” O’Neal wrote on Twitter.
He shared, however, that he made up his mind after thinking of what Bryant would want him to do.
“Kobe would want us to push through and celebrate life. So lets do just that,” O’Neal continued, before sharing that he will be donating the proceeds from his party to not only the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant foundation, but also to the families of the seven other victims.
“I’ll be dedicating and donating all my proceeds from Friday nights Fun House to all the families who lost loved ones and to the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Foundation,” O’Neal wrote.
Bryant and his wife launched the foundation in 2006 as a public charity dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families in need.