Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 February 2020

Hundreds turn out at JLT Park to pay tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant - in pictures

NBA legend, his daughter, and seven others died in a helicopter crash last week

More than 200 people from around the UAE descended on JLT Park in Dubai on Monday evening to pay their respects to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven other people who died in a helicopter crash last week.

The event was organised by DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre) Executive Chairman Ahmed Bin Sulayem, who became friends with Bryant after the American first visited Dubai in September 2013 to launch the Kobe Bryant Health and Fitness Weekend, presented by DMCC.

Bin Sulayem was also responsible for the Burj Khalifa's light display on Sunday when the world's tallest building projected an image of Kobe and Gianna Bryant with the words 'Rest In Peace'. It received global attention and widespread praise.

On Monday evening the tributes continued in JLT with people from around the Emirates encouraged to come together to remember Bryant and light candles in his memory.

Flowers in the shapes of 8 and 24 - Bryant's jersey numbers - a large image of Kobe and Gianna, and Kobe's framed hand prints from when he inaugurated the basketball court at JLT Park were all on display. Attendees, many of whom were wearing Bryant Lakers jerseys, pressed their hands up against Bryant's prints to compare hand sizes to the basketball superstar.

Bryant, one of the greatest and most influential basketball players of all time, made an indelible mark around the world, and the UAE is no different. The Los Angeles Lakers legend drew huge crowds upon his first visit in 2013, when he hosted coaching clinics and basketball games in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to promote Kobe Bryant Health and Fitness Weekend.

More than 2,000 spectators crammed into the American University Dubai's Knights Arena where he coached a team of celebrity players, called Team Black Mamba, against a Real Madrid basketball legends team.

Such has been Bryant' impact, his death last Sunday has been felt around the world and across all sports. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and former US President Barack Obama were among world leaders to offer their condolences, while thousands of people have laid flowers and cards outside Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Updated: February 4, 2020 12:45 PM

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