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LA Kings Honor Kobe and GiGi Bryant in Return to STAPLES Center

The Kings players, fans and staff paid their respects to Kobe, Gigi and the other families involved in the tragedy

by Robyn Dutton @dutts_10 /

Few athletes transcend their sport, but Kobe Bryant did that and more. 

He was a Los Angeles icon, a gifted athlete, a global humanitarian, a loyal friend and a loving father.

Tonight, fans, staff and members of the LA Kings joined the entire sports community in grieving the loss of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, and Ara Zobayan.

Watch: Youtube Video

With the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers game postponed, the Kings' Wednesday night matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning was the first game to be held at STAPLES Center since the tragedy. 

"We walked in with Kobe jerseys to pay our respects," Kings Captain Anze Kopitar said. "What he meant to us: he was the ultimate champion. He was known as the Black Mamba - the 'closer' if you will - he was here to win games and win championships and that's the ultimate goal in sports."

Tweet from @LAKings: 💜💛 @TBLightning joining the LA Kings in honoring Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi.

Fans continued to mourn the loss of Kobe and Gigi outside STAPLES Center, showing their respects by leaving bouquets of flowers and words of love.

His infectious attitude and positive words inspired those he had never met, and he will continue to do so through his legacy.

"The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do." - Kobe Bryant

The Mamba Sports Foundation has set up Mamba on Three in an effort to provide support to the families involved.

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