It’s been a little more than a week since the devastating helicopter crash claimed the lives of not only NBA legend Kobe Bryant, but also his daughter Gianna, his private helicopter’s pilot, and six other members of the late 41-year-old’s Mamba Academy basketball team. Since then, tributes have taken place all over the globe — from smaller communities, to large stages like the Grammy Awards and the Super Bowl. But in the wake of the devastating loss, fans in the Los Angeles area have been gathering at the Staples Center (which Kobe called his home court for his entire 20-year career) to leave flowers, art, and other tributes to the Black Mamba.
Though the Staples Center declared that yesterday, Feb. 2, they would begin breaking down the tribute to mark one week since the crash, the Lakers organization also shared that Kobe’s widow, Vanessa, and three surviving daughters — 17-year-old Natalia, two-year-old Bianca, and seven-month-old Capri aka Koko — will receive a catalog of the impressive tributes left to honor the iconic athlete. In the same interview, they shared that they planned to compost all the flowers left in memory of Kobe to help beautify the city he’s called home since he was a teen.
Lee Zeidman, president of the Staples Center, told the Los Angeles Times of their plans to make compost out of the perishable items. He said, “We’re going to compost all those flowers out there and spread them around the plants in and around L.A. Live and in and around Staples Center. So that means that all those fans that took the time to buy the flowers and plants and brought them down there, some that will still be around the site.”
He added they were honored to help the Bryant family get the gifts left at what’s been dubbed “the house that Kobe built,” but that there are some events at L.A. Live, the entire entertainment complex including the Staples Center in Downtown LA, which require the space is cleared.
“It will have been a week. We have contractually obligated events that are moving in,” Zeidman said, per Complex. “Vanessa had reached out to us and said, ‘Our family would like the items out there.’ So we’re going to catalog every one of them. By that I mean, T-shirts, letters, basketballs, stuffed animals, toys. We’re going to put those in specially made containers and we’re going to ship them to the family.”
The idea to compost the perishable items came from the officials who handled the Manchester Area bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in 2017; after the attack claimed the lives of 22 people and injured as many as 116, the flowers left at the scene was made into compost “to help new life flourish,” the BBC reported back in 2017.
While the Staples Center has taken down the tribute to Kobe and Gigi, Zeidman made it clear that it doesn’t mean fans in LA and around the world can’t continue to mourn in a way they find fit. Instead of leaving items at the Staples Center, he encouraged fans to donate to Mamba On Three, the charity established to support and honor the families of those lost in the helicopter crash — Alyssa, John, and Keri Altobelli, Payton and Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan.