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Following a week of local and national tributes, Super Bowl LIV on Sunday honored late former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant with a brief preshow moment of silence.
Following a montague salute to the U.S. military and history of the American flag featuring several NFL team owners, both the players and personnel of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers stood on the field to take a moment to honor the late Lakers icon and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles.
“Our deepest condolences to the friends and families of those lost this past week. Nine individuals whose lives were caught short in Sunday’s tragic accident, including Gianna and Kobe Bryant,” an announcer said. “They will never be forgotten.”
“I don’t think just Los Angeles is mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told the press during the pre-Super Bowl news conference. “Kobe was a special person. I did have the opportunity to meet him. He obviously brought a lot to our world, and I think all of us not only feel for the tragic events to his family but as well as everyone else who was a passenger on that helicopter.”
The NFL also memorialized one of its own, retired Minnesota Viking and Hall of Famer Chris Doleman. The former defensive end died of cancer Tuesday at the age of 58.
Honoring Chris Doleman, Kobe and Gianna Bryant and those who lost their lives in last week’s accident.
— NFL (@NFL) February 2, 2020
During the Super Bowl halftime performance, headliners Jennifer Lopez and Shakira also paid a small tribute to Bryant. The commoration was first announced by the singers and Goodell on Thursday.
It began with Lopez, who was joined onstage by her daughter Emme Maribel Muñiz. Emme sang from Lopez’s hit “Let’s Get Loud,” surrounded by white lights and backed by a young group of girls dressed all in white who sang the lyrics, “ If you want to live your life / Live it all the way and don’t waste it.”
Later in the halftime performance, Shakira brought together a group of dancers dressed in all gold, who performed the singer’s hit “Waka Waka” to a stage illuminated in gold and purple, the color of the Lakers.
During the Fox preshow, host and analyst Michael Strahan took a moment to remember Bryant following a special reading from the sports icon’s Oscar-winning short film Dear Basketball by friend and San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman.
“Kobe was a friend and I’m lucky enough to call him my friend, but he’s a guy who has transcended his sport,” Strahan said. “Most guys and people in their sport are motivated by him and he motivated, everyone because he had a tenacity. He had a willingness and a commitment to be great, to be the best at whatever you did.”
Bryant, his daughter Gianna and Doleman were honored on the eve of Super Bowl LIV during the 2020 NFL Honors ceremony at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. Players gave shout-outs to the late basketball star after taking the stage to accept their awards, but it was retired quarterback Peyton Manning who delivered the night’s direct tribute to Bryant.
“We knew him as a superhero in his world, and as a curious, passionate fan in ours,” Manning said during the NFL Honors event.
Since his death, Bryant has been remembered across the NBA and by his hometowns, as well as the larger professional sports community and entertainment world.
The past week saw the Philadelphia native honored by the NBA’s 76ers, as well as his high school Lower Merion. The latter event featured the return of his former teammates and his high school jersey, which had been stolen back in 2017 before being sold to a collector in China. In Los Angeles, the legend’s 20-year career with the Lakers was honored in an emotional pregame ceremony following a week of fans flooding Staples Center with flowers, gifts and messages.
On the day of Bryant’s death, the Grammys hosted several tributes to the late basketball player, father, investor and Grannity Studios producer alongside a remembrance for rapper and community activist Nipsy Hussle. That same day, a moment of silence was held in Bryant’s name during the Pro Bowl and another at Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday.
Former NBA star and Bryant teammate Shaquille O’Neal is donating all the proceeds from his Super Bowl concert party to the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. O’Neal won three NBA titles with Bryant during eight seasons with the Lakers.
Super Bowl LIV is being held at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and airing on Fox.
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