LeBron James remembers Kobe Bryant in emotional speech before the LA Lakers game

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NBA legend Kobe Bryant was remembered by the Los Angeles Lakers in their first game since his tragic death on Friday night.

The Lakers faced off against the Portland Trail Blazers, losing 127-119, but the night was more about paying tribute to a man who created a legacy at the franchise.

Two seats were left empty inside the Staples Center for Kobe and his daughter Gianna, who also died in the helicopter crash that killed nine people.

A six-minute video tribute was also shown before Lakers forward LeBron James delivered a heartfelt speech to honour his friend.

James, who recently got a tattoo dedicated to Bryant, was ready to read a pre-written speech but told the crowd: “Laker nation, man, I will be selling you short if I read off this s***, so I'm going to go straight from the heart."

The 35-year-old continued by saying he wanted the ceremony to be a celebration of Bryant’s life and career.

“This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the getting up, the sitting down, the everything, the countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be,” James said.

“Tonight we celebrate the kid who came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we’ve seen over the last three years.”

James was also moved to tears as R&B group Boyz II Men sang the national anthem before the game.

The Lakers introduced each of their players not as themselves but as Bryant.

PA announcer Lawrence Tanter said for each player: “6-6, 20th year out of Lower Merion High School, Kobe Bryant.”

The result didn’t matter on a night that was all about remembering Kobe, his daughter and the other seven victims.

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