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WEAA to carry public memorial for Los Angeles Laker legend Kobe Bryant


20,000 fans are expected to pack the Staples Center Monday to say a final farewell to Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.  A public memorial service will be held at the Lakers home court for Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. 

They were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash last month.  The memorial will start at 10 a.m. Pacific time, 1 p.m. Eastern.  Tens of thousands of people registered to try to get tickets to the event, though the arena only holds 20-thousand people.  Those who can't make it in person can watch it on NBA TV or online via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. 

The Celebration of Life will feature speakers reflecting on Kobe Bryant's impact on his sport and the world, along with music and retrospectives on Bryant's on-court achievements. Bryant became active in film, television and writing after he retired from basketball in 2016. Bryant's family, dozens of sports greats and many major figures in Bryant's public life are expected to attend.

Staples Center is sold out for the memorial. The money made from ticket sales will be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programs in underserved communities and teaches sports to girls and women. Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers, including the final 17 seasons at Staples Center, which opened in 1999. The five-time NBA champion's two retired jersey numbers - 8 and 24 - hang high above the arena where he became the third-leading scorer in league history until Lakers star LeBron James passed him on the night before Bryant's death.

Bryant's death caused an outpouring of grief across Los Angeles, where he remained the city's most popular athlete into retirement. Symbolic meanings will run throughout the ceremony, which will be held on a 24-foot-by-24-foot stage. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife and Gianna's mother, chose Feb. 24 as the date in honor of the uniform numbers of Kobe and Gianna, who wore No. 2 on her youth basketball teams.

The celebration of life service comes after weeks of mourning for the nine victims of the Jan. 26 crash in Calabasas. Also killed were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa; Bryant's friend and assistant coach, Christina Mauser; Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton; and Ara Zobayan, the pilot of the Sikorsky S-76B.

You can listen to the Bryant memorial on WEAA 88.9 FM. The "voice" of Morgan State University sports, Lamont Germany, will join News Director Julius White for commentary during the ceremony.