There were emotional scenes at Staples Centre Friday night as LeBron James and a host of stars paid tribute to Kobe Bryant at the first LA Lakers game since his tragic death.
A visibly upset James spoke “from the heart” regarding close friend Bryant, who died alongside daughter Gianna and seven others in a tragic helicopter crash last weekend.
Stars such as Usher and Boyz II Men also appeared and dedicated performances to the basketball legend.
Appearing on court before the game began, James began by reading the the names of those who died in the accident; Bryant’s daughter Gianna (“Gigi”), John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and Peyton Chester and Ara Zobayan.
He then said: "I've gotten something written down,” before he preceded to scrap his written words and "go straight from the heart".
He continued: "The first thing that comes to mind is all about family. And as I look around this arena, we're all grieving, we're all hurt, we're all heartbroken. When we're going through things like this the best thing you can do is lean on the shoulders of your family."
"I heard about Lakers Nation before I got here... about how much of a family it is, and that is absolutely what I've seen this whole week.
"Not only from the players, not only from the coaching staff, not only from the organisation but from everybody. Everybody that's here… This is really, truly a family. And I know Kobe and Gianna [Bryant] and Vanessa [Bryant] thank you from the bottom of their heart."
Standing next to bouquets of flowers shaped in Bryant’s jersey numbers, 8 and 24, he added: "I know at some point we will have a memorial for Kobe but I look at this as a celebration tonight.
"This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, sweat, tears, the broken down body, the getting up, the sitting down, the countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be.
"Tonight we celebrate the kid who came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and become the best dad that we've seen over the last three years. Tonight is a celebration."
James then finished: "In the words of Kobe Bryant, Mamba out. But in the words of us, not forgotten. Live on, brother."
A known music fan, Bryant’s memory was also marked by Usher singing Amazing Grace and Boyz II Men harmonising the Star-Spangled banner.
Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth, then performed a touching rendition of See You Again at half time.