Mourners started gathering near the Los Angeles Staples Center Monday morning for a memorial for Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others killed last month in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Only the 20,000 ticketed mourners for the memorial will be allowed into the area immediately surrounding the venue, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore said, according to the Times.
Bryant fans, many dressed in purple and gold for the late Lakers star, waiting for doors to open for the event at 10 a.m. local time, recalled their shock upon finding out the news of the accident that killed the athlete.
“We thought it was fake news,” Tom Ling, wearing a silver No. 8 jersey, told The Associated Press. “We didn’t want to believe it.”
Bob Melendez, a Lakers season ticket holder for 40 years, was wearing a No. 24 jersey and Lakers jacket he bought for Bryant’s final game.
He told the AP he “never dreamed’ he’d be wearing it at Bryant’s memorial.
Tickets for the event ranged in price from $24.02 to $224, and more than 80,000 applied for a ticket lottery, according to the Times.
The proceeds will be donated to Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, Bryant’s organization aimed at creating a positive impact through sports.
The former NBA star’s career included five NBA titles, 18 All-Star selections and more than 33,000 points.
In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a Colorado hotel employee. The charges were dropped later after the woman alleging the assault declined to cooperate with prosecutors. She settled with Bryant outside of court.
Bryant acknowledged in an apology that the woman did not consider their “encounter” to be consensual.