A Day to Remember Kobe Bryant

A Day to Remember Kobe Bryant

Credit…Ryan Young for The New York Times

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Kobe Bryant will be honored today in Los Angeles. The public memorial, called “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant,” is expected to run from about 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. My colleagues Marc Stein, Tim Arango, Scott Cacciola, Sopan Deb, Alan Blinder and I will be providing coverage all day on nytimes.com.

As a national correspondent based in Los Angeles, I’ve written about Kobe Bryant and the impact his death has had on the city. Here’s more on my experience from the past few weeks.

Kobe Bryant is everywhere.

Since the Los Angeles Lakers legend died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others, at least 94 murals have popped up in his honor in Southern California, according to Kobemural.com, a website that is mapping them.

I encounter them on my way to the Times bureau on Miracle Mile, en route to meetings downtown and when I run errands in Studio City. There, the side of an exotic car rental company on Ventura Boulevard features Bryant biting his jersey alongside his 13-year-old daughter, both looking upward, as if toward heaven.

Nearly a month after Bryant’s death, digital banners on the fronts of buses still alternate displaying their routes with the phrase “RIP Kobe.” Tributes adorn car dealerships along freeways, the windows of upscale boutiques and the facades of businesses in south Los Angeles.

Outsiders sometimes say Los Angeles, sprawling and segregated, lacks heart and soul.

The outpouring of grief for Bryant has proved otherwise. People across socioeconomic, ethnic and geographical boundaries united to mourn the player who devoted 20 years to the Lakers — and by extension to their city. Over his 41 years, Bryant won the undying love of his adopted hometown.

Thousands of Latinos, blacks, whites and Asians, rich and poor, stood vigil outside Staples Center to honor their idol on the day he died, bearing candles, flowers and balloons, shaped in Bryant’s jersey numbers, 8 and 24. “I”m an Angeleno and Kobe embodies L.A.,” Joshua Hernandez, a college student in the crowd, told me. His comment was echoed by many others, from all walks of life.

At one point, I was wedged between a working-class mother and toddler and a Tesla executive who had come with her 17-year-old son, Maika. “Kobe unites everybody,” Maika said. “Here we are for him looking past everything that divides us.”

The superstar was not a perfect being, many mourners noted when I asked what they most admired about him. Aside from his athletic prowess and his love for Los Angeles, they were captivated by how accessible he felt to them.

At his sports academy in Thousand Oaks, where he was heading on that fateful Sunday, a maintenance man named Rudolfo Aguirre, a Mexican immigrant, put it this way about the star who insisted that he speak only Spanish to him.

“Multimillionaires don’t normally notice people like me. Kobe always greeted me, ‘Hola, amigo’ and said ‘Muchas gracias.’”

Here is more of our coverage on Kobe Bryant’s death:

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  • U.S. markets were expected to start the week sharply lower, following a sell-off of shares in Europe after more infections of the coronavirus were confirmed outside China. [The New York Times]

  • Layoffs. Shutdowns. Uncertainty. After a decade of prosperity, many hot young tech companies are facing a reckoning. [The New York Times]

  • The primary race is entering a critical nine-day stretch that could effectively determine the Democratic presidential nomination as candidates face a debate, the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday contests. For Senator Sanders, the pressure is on to keep his front-runner status. [The New York Times]

  • Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s main union is pushing back forcefully against efforts to make the company, which is currently owned by investors, controlled by the public instead — something Senator Sanders has proposed. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

  • President Trump addressed the largest crowd of his political career on Monday morning in India. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate a charter bus crash off Interstate 15 that killed three passengers and injured 18 others. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • Streaming TV’s boom has been a mixed blessing for some Hollywood writers: The glut of shows has created more opportunities, but short seasons and unpredictable schedules have made life tricky. [The New York Times]

  • Kanye West has purchased about 11 acres of commercial property within the town limits of Cody, Wyo. He has moved members of the Yeezy team into the area. He’s said he hopes the town will be for him what Dayton, Ohio was for the Wright brothers. [The New York Times]

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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