Kobe Bryant fans gather in DC for emotional candlelight vigil

About 100 people gathered in Northwest D.C. on Friday evening to honor the life and legacy of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who died last weekend in a helicopter crash.

The vigil, organized by the National Black United Front, was held at the African American Civil War Memorial on Vermont Avenue, off U Street.

As light rain fell, there were prayers, speeches, songs, and 24 seconds of silence for the man who wore #24. Some people showed up in purple and gold Lakers gear and jerseys, and as night fell, candles were lit.

Among those attending was Frank Sherrod of Maryland, a self-described Laker fanatic. Asked what made Bryant great, Sherrod said: “His dedication, his strong will, like everybody’s saying, the ‘Black Mamba’ mentality.”

Black Mamba was a nickname Bryant gave himself.

“Growing up watching the Lakers, watching Kobe play, it’s still unreal. Being out here, seeing all these people, all the different tributes that are going on to Kobe, you still can’t believe that he’s gone,” said another D.C. native and Bryant fan.

A temporary memorial to Bryant that was set up on the ground before the vigil, grew larger as the event came to an end.

It included tall candles, bouquets of flowers, a pair of Nike sneakers and a photo of Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who was also killed in Sunday’s crash.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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