LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Final preparations are underway Monday morning as Los Angeles prepares to say goodbye to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
With 90 minutes to go before the Celebration of Life ceremony, the security team at L.A. Live had set up fencing to prepare for the 20,000 people who will gather at 10 a.m. Monday at Staples Center to honor Kobe and Gianna Bryant, as well as the seven other victims of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash.
By 8 a.m., thousands of fans had already lined up outside.
Staples Center is expected to be busy Monday. It hosted a Kings game Sunday morning and a Lakers game earlier Sunday afternoon. It will also host a Clippers game Monday night.
More than 100,000 people tried to get tickets to the memorial. On Friday, officials reminded fans without tickets to avoid the area tomorrow.
“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.
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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. No restaurants at L.A. Live will be open during the ceremony.
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 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 opened 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.
Patrick Vuong and his girlfriend, Kelly Sadamitsu attended Sunday’s Kings game in their Kobe jerseys.
“In the wake of Kobe’s passing, I always feel like I should be honoring Kobe in some way,” Vuong said.
They attended the hockey game with Sadamitsu’s parents, who she said raised her on a well-balanced diet of L.A. sports.
“Just growing up, my parents watch the Lakers almost every game and it’s something that help bring the family together,” Sadamitsu said.
The ability to bond through grief is being felt by Jacqueline Rocha – who only learned this morning she was able to buy a pair of tickets for the memorial.
“I’m still in disbelief,” Rocha said, “but I feel extremely lucky and blessed.”
Kiara Arvizu is still on waitlist after driving 16 hours with her friends from Denver. She said Kobe’s Mamba mentality is why they’re not ready to give up.
“Like he always said, who cares if you shot and he missed. Keep trying. Same thing in this situation,” Arvizu said.
Vuong will not be at the memorial but a piece of him will through his aunt and uncle who got tickets.
“They’re very excited,” he said. “My aunt is going try to borrow this jersey to wear tomorrow.”