Kobe Bryant's private funeral service likely at same Catholic church he went before boarding ill-fated chopper

The public memorial service for Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others killed in a helicopter crash two weeks ago is set to be held at the Staples Center on February 24


                            Kobe Bryant's private funeral service likely at same Catholic church he went before boarding ill-fated chopper
(Getty Images)

Following confirmation that the memorial service for Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others who lost their lives in a helicopter crash almost two weeks ago will be held at the Staples Center, there has been increased speculation about a private ceremony as well.

The New York Times theorized that such a ceremony might take place at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach, California, as Kobe, a practicing Catholic, belonged to the church.

He had reportedly even gone there with Gianna to "reflect and pray" in the early hours of January 26, following which they boarded the ill-fated S-76 Sikorsky helicopter that claimed their lives as they headed to the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for the teen's basketball practice.

The reports that he was at mass that morning were confirmed by Tracey Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Orange County, Bishop Timothy Freyer, also of the Orange Diocese, as well as David Barnes, a Catholic priest in Boston, Massachusetts.

Catholic funerals, such as the one Kobe and Gianna are expected to get, traditionally include a full mass at church that is followed by a burial, which would give the family a chance to say their final goodbyes in a private environment away from prying eyes.

A man places a hat at a makeshift memorial near Staples Center in remembrance of NBA great Kobe Bryant
(David McNew/Getty Images)

Kincaid had calmed speculation on such a ceremony by saying last week that the diocese had not been involved in any funeral discussions with the Bryant family. "Right now, we’re respecting the privacy of the family and waiting to hear what any funeral plans would be," she said.

In the scenario the funeral does take place at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, Kobe's family will be allowed to choose the scriptures and music they feel is appropriate, according to the church's website.

The ceremony will start with a vigil in the church or the mortuary chapel, followed by the reception of the body at the church and the Funeral Mass, final prayers and commendation, and finally, the burial at the gravesite.

The family can choose which parts of the funeral rites they would like to use, though it is still unclear if it will be a funeral — mass with the body or the cremated remains present —  or a memorial mass where the mass takes place without the body or cremated remains present.

What is clear currently is that the public memorial service for Kobe, Gianna, and the seven other victims is planned for February 24 at Staples Center, where the basketball star spent almost the entirety of his career. The date, 2/24, is also of particular significance as it corresponds with the No. 24 jersey he wore and the No. 2 worn by Gianna.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the date was selected after discussions with Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, the Lakers organization and Staples Center. It was also said that there would be no procession, and the event will conclude in time to allow a previously scheduled Clippers game against the Memphis Grizzlies to go forward in the evening.

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