Kobe Bryant honored at memorial by his Philadelphia-area high school

Bryant graduated from Lower Merion and went straight to the NBA.

February 1, 2020, 2:39 PM

Kobe Bryant was honored Saturday at his former high school in a packed gymnasium, nearly a week after his shocking death.

Around 1,600 people, including Bryant's cousin and former high school teammates, showed up for the tribute at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, in the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium.

Kevin Grugan, one of the NBA legend's high school teammates, who is now the assistant coach for the school's boys basketball team, thanked those who have shown an "outpouring of love and support."

Grugan also announced that Bryant's legacy would be commemorated in the gym, with his high-school jersey framed on a wall.

"We will welcome Kobe home in a small way," Grugan said. "As the jersey that belongs here is finally here."

PHOTO: Basketballs, flowers, letters, and jerseys are left at a memorial for former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant in this Jan. 27, 2020 photo, at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa., after Bryant, a former student, was killed in a helicopter crash.
Basketballs, flowers, letters, and jerseys are left at a memorial for former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant in this Jan. 27, 2020 photo, at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa., after Bryant, a former student, was killed in a helicopter crash.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

A video montage of Bryant's life and career was also played, including a final image of him smiling court-side with his arm wrapped around his 13-year-old daughter Gianna "Gigi" Bryant. The two were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

The other victims were identified as college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli, their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, basketball coach Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, her daughter Payton Chester and pilot Ara Zobayan.

The tribute took place between the varsity girls and varsity boys basketball games.

Bryant graduated from Lower Merion, located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, in 1996 and went straight to the NBA.

PHOTO: File - Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant speaks at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa. on Jan. 26, 2002, where Bryant's high school jersey, number 33, was retired during a ceremony.
File - Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant speaks at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa. on Jan. 26, 2002, where Bryant's high school jersey, number 33, was retired during a ceremony.
Douglas M. Bovitt/AP

Gregg Downer, who was Bryant's coach throughout high school, was in attendance at the ceremony but did not publicly speak. Bryant's cousin, John Cox, who plays French professional basketball, also attended the ceremony but did not publicly speak.

"Aces Nation has lost its heartbeat," Downer said in an earlier statement, referring to the school's nickname for its basketball team.

The high school memorial is among the countless that have poured in since his death. On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the court for their first game since the tragedy. Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers.

LeBron James spoke in a pre-game ceremony to honor Bryant.

"Tonight we celebrate the kid that came here at 18, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we've seen over the last three years," James said.

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