BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A vigil will be held Friday night for those who died in the helicopter crash that killed NBA superstar Kobe Bryant.
The vigil will be at the Dignity Health Sports Complex at 7 p.m., and the complex is located at 3101 Gilmore Avenue. Even though Kobe isn’t quite as synonymous with Bakersfield as he is the City of Angels, a large turnout is expected.
“This is a big laker fan city, so Kobe is like one of our own. We cheer for him and root for him as if we’re from Los Angeles," said Kyle Shiloh, the CEO of Gameday Sports Academy, which manages the sports complex.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and 7 others were killed Sunday when his helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas. The complex houses sports leagues and youth programs.
“The kids have kind of dealt with it in their own way, you know I struggled with it very hard at one point, me and my family. And it’s strange you don’t know him personally but you’ve watched him for so many years, he’s kind of one of the family," Shiloh said.
Shiloh and many others will remember Bryant for his skills on the court, and for being a good father. Since the news of Kobe's death, thousands have paid their respects outside the house he built, Staples Center. And there's already been some love here in Bakersfield, with a billboard honoring Kobe near the intersection of Rosedale Highway and Mohawk Street. Bryant also being remembered by millions for his extreme work ethic, often referred to as the mamba mentality.
“Not many people can do what he’s done, I think that’s what separates him. Not just what he did on the court but his approach to everything, that’s half the battle," Shiloh said.
Tonight’s vigil will feature a remembrance video, and a pastor will be there to say some words. The public can bring candles and is encouraged to wear purple and gold.