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Memorial Service At L.A.'s Staples Center Will Honor Kobe Bryant


Los Angeles mourns a complicated icon today. Some 20,000 people are expected to attend a memorial service at the Staples Center for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. Thousands more tried for tickets to the sold-out service but were turned away. Robert Garrova with member station KPCC talked with some of Bryant's fans will be paying their respects in their own way.

ROBERT GARROVA, BYLINE: Corey Collins stood outside Staples Center taking pictures on a sunny winter day in LA. He's from Dallas, Texas, so he's not a huge Lakers fan, but he is a Kobe fan.

COREY COLLINS: I saw him, you know what I'm saying? Watched him do his thing, you know what I'm saying? So yeah, it hurt, man, especially how he went out. Really hard to talk about it, to be perfectly honest with you.

GARROVA: Collins said he and his friend Alexandra Walking Sky were on the waitlist for tickets to the memorial. Walking Sky, who's wearing Lakers purple and gold, said she'd be bummed if they didn't get tickets.

ALEXANDRA WALKING SKY: I wanted to be - I wanted to, you know, be a part of the celebration of his life and his daughter. So yeah. But at least we'll be here.

GARROVA: By here, Walking Sky means in LA, watching the memorial on TV or listening on the radio. Traveling around LA, I talked with people from all over the U.S. united in their love of Kobe. Eric Daza of Seattle took photos with his wife Kathy and their three kids, all decked out in Lakers gear outside Staples Center. Daza's been following Kobe's career since he was in middle school.

ERIC DAZA: Mamba mentality, man - it's just, yeah, work hard, get there, get better, keep getting better.

GARROVA: Kathy Daza said while they won't be at the memorial, they made Kobe the focus of their trip.

KATHY DAZA: I became a big fan once I - when I got married to my husband. But it was the family figure about Kobe - him and his kids and how his kids meant a lot to him. We started off with two girls, and our last one was our son. And being a girl dad, you know, definitely makes an impact on us.

GARROVA: Girl dad, that's you.

E DAZA: Yeah.

K DAZA: He's a girl dad (laughter).

GARROVA: Chris Parise of LA was practicing his free throws at a park just a few miles from Staples. He said he has to work during the memorial, so he hopes to watch a recording of it.

CHRIS PARISE: Kobe, as a artisan, as a - someone who treated his craft as a passion more than anyone else, that to me was the most inspiring.

GARROVA: Parise said, as a music teacher, that's something he tries to pass on to his students. He said if the memorial came up during class on Monday, he'd spend some time talking about Kobe's legacy.

For NPR News, I'm Robert Garrova. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Robert Garrova