Kobe Bryant: LeBron James says there's 'never going to be a closure', refuses to confirm if he was at memorial
LeBron James casually avoided answering whether he was at the "Celebration of Life" memorial service for Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna, leaving many to still wonder if the Los Angeles Lakers star was in attendance at the Staples Center on Tuesday.
Several notable celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Kimmel, Beyonce, and Christina Aguilera, as well as basketball legends Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal were filmed in the crowd during the memorial service, but James seemed conspicuously absent.
While the likes of The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Entertainment Tonight all reported that the 35-year-old was amongst the attendees, doubt remained because he was not in any of the pictures or the footage of the event. Asked about the same during the morning practice for the Lakers' game against the New Orleans Pelicans, James refused to clarify his exact whereabouts and said it had been a "very tough" day.
"I respect your question, for sure, but it’s very emotional," he told reporters. "A very emotional day. A very tough day for myself, for my family, for everyone involved."
His agent, Rich Paul, similarly said it had been an "emotional day" for the basketballer and said he spent the memorial in "his own space." He did not answer when asked if James had been inside the Staples Center for the 2.5-hour ceremony.
"Emotionally a wreck, like everyone else," James said when questioned about how he felt. "Another challenging day for all of us. Like you've been hearing me talk about the last couple times you guys asked me about the whole situation, it's just been hard to kind of talk about it. Trying not to go back. It's just tough."
He also praised Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's widow, for her powerful and emotional speech paying tribute to her daughter and husband. "One thing I can come out of it saying is how strong and how bold and how powerful Vanessa is," he said. "To stand up there the way she did, to give that speech the way she gave that speech. I commend her."
"My heart is with their family still," he continued. "With his three daughters that are still here. With his wife. With his mom and dad and his sisters. It was just a very difficult day. Obviously a celebration, but it was a difficult day for all of us. So I appreciate it. If we could move on to tonight, that would be great."
When reporters asked if the memorial would provide some closure for the Lakers team, where Kobe spent 20 years and won five NBA championships, James said there's "never going to be a closure."
"I mean, we continue to live on his legacy and continue to have our hearts heavy with both sadness and with happiness for his family that are still here," he said. "So it's not a closure. But it was a celebration which was well received from not only the Laker faithful, not only the family here, but everybody around the world."