Flouting police warnings to stay away from the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, which is hosting the Grammy Awards on Sunday, fans of basketball legend Kobe Bryant gathered outside the arena to mourn and remember the former Los Angeles Laker.
Several fans told KTLA that “they didn’t know where else to go.”
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion who played with the Lakers for 20 seasons, died in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were also killed in the crash.
Flags outside the Staples Center flew at half mast in honor of Bryant, Variety reported, and images of the athlete were shown on big screens around the arena. The gathered mourners reportedly numbered in the hundreds.
Bryant fans, however, were unable to get too close to the arena because police had cordoned off the building, where the Grammy Awards were set to begin at 5 p.m. local time.
Police urged fans to stay away in order to avoid disrupting the award show, but those warnings appeared to fall on deaf ears, with some fans reminding authorities that the Staples Center is the “house that Kobe built.”
Grammys organizers seemed to agree with this sentiment. The show’s pre-telecast ceremony opened with a tribute to Bryant.
“Since we are in his house, I would ask you to join me in a moment of silence,” Recording Academy’s interim CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told attendees.
Journalists outside the arena described a surreal scene of celebrities arriving in red-carpet outfits for the ceremony, while crowds of mourners cried and chanted Bryant’s name nearby.
WNBA star Chiney Ogwumike and actor Danny Trejo were among the fans at the Staples Center.
“I can’t even believe this is real,” Ogwumike said on Twitter.
More scenes from outside the Staples Center, below: