LOS ANGELES — The line began to form hours before the public memorial service began.
Thousands of heartbroken Lakers fans respectfully waited outside the House that Kobe Built in subdued silence to say a final farewell to their fallen hero and his 13-year-old daughter.
Many wore Kobe Bryant jerseys bearing the Nos. 8 and 24 he donned during his illustrious Lakers career. Others came dressed in homemade T-shirts featuring the faces of Kobe and Gianna or their jersey numbers adorned with halos and angel wings. They did not chant or shout, only offering subdued applause when the Staples Center doors opened at last at 8:30 a.m. PT.
Once inside the arena, attendees received a black T-shirt with images of Kobe and Gianna, a celebration of life booklet with an assortment of pictures of Kobe and his family, and a commemorative ticket and pin. Every ticket had the same seat number: Section 8, Row 24, Seat 2.
Pictures of Kobe and Gianna flashed across the video board as fans took their seats. Where the basketball floor would normally be sat a square black stage adorned with 33,643 red roses, one for every point Kobe scored in his NBA career.