BIRMINGHAM RESIDENTS, CITY LEADERS COME TOGETHER FOR KOBE BRYANT VIGIL

Reporting by WVUA 23’s Jabaree Prewitt

Tragedy struck the world Sunday when NBA Legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old-daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in California.

The loss touched so many lives around the world, including Birmingham, Alabama. On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board partnered to honor the life and legacy of Bryant with a candlelight vigil.

“He was an ambassador for the Los Angeles Lakers, the city of Los Angeles and the NBA. He was also an ambassador for the world. This was just a way to say, ‘Thank you,’” said Birmingham City Council President William Parker.

Fans like Pamela Johnson attended the vigil sporting their LA Lakers gear. She said that after learning of the deaths of all nine victims, she pulled out her 30-year-old Lakers jacket to honor Bryant.

“[I love] what he brings to the world and what he does for a lot of people, and the man that he was and most definitely the father that he was and how he encouraged people and want them to give their best and give their all and just be good stewards in life, we need that,” she said.

Birmingham city leaders addressed the crowd about the man they say made a lasting impact on so many lives on and off the court, even after retirement. Many residents said they were so proud to see the Magic City stepped up to pay tribute so fast.

“I’m so proud of Birmingham, how they bringing this together for us. I love it,” said Bryant fan Valery Rowser.

There was also a balloon release at 6:24 p.m., referencing Bryant’s No. 24 Lakers jersey number. Birmingham Police detective John Finke, who was shot three times on Sunday, was also honored. Finke is still recovering at UAB Hospital.

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