LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Preparations are still underway for the celebration of life for Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center Monday. Around 20,000 people will gather to say goodbye to the Lakers legend and the eight other victims of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash.
“It’s gonna be tough just knowing I have to say goodbye,” said 16-year-old Kumi Tamura, who has known Bryant since she was eight years old and is attending the ceremony. “I lost someone who actually cared. I had the opportunity to meet my favorite player and my inspiration.”
More than 100,000 people tried to get tickets to the memorial. Officials reminded fans without tickets to avoid the area next week.
“We hope that everybody heeds the message and they stay either in their offices, surrounded by their friends or at home with their family or loved ones, because it’s going to be a very emotional memorial for that day and we want people to be able to enjoy it,” Staples Center President Lee Zeidman told reporters outside the venue.
Zeidman was joined by Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore again to emphasize that the ceremony will not be broadcast on any of the outdoor screens at Staples Center or in the adjacent L.A. Live plaza.
Pico and Olympic boulevards and other major streets near the arena will remain open, but smaller streets outside Staples Center and L.A. Live will be blocked off and accessible only to people with tickets.
“This is, to be clear, a ticketed worldwide event at this location,” Moore said. “And what that means is, if you don’t have tickets and credentials, you will not be allowed into this venue. … The point there is, do not impact the rest of the Los Angeles downtown community by trying to come here and be part of something that you’ll not be a part of.”
There is no indication that people will try to crash the event or cause a disturbance, Moore said, adding the community has shown the utmost respect in the weeks following the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that killed Bryant, 41, Gianna, 13, and seven other people.
Zeidman didn’t offer any details about how many tickets were purchased by fans, but 20,000 seats were made available in the arena for Monday’s ceremony, which will start at 10 a.m. Doors to Staples Center will open at 8 a.m., and everyone with tickets is asked to be in their seats by 9:45 a.m.
There was no information on who will be speaking at the memorial.