'We Shouldn't Have to Carry It Alone': How The Public Mourning Of Kobe Bryant Has Helped LA Heal

Fans gather to mourn outside the Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A few days after Kobe Bryant died, my colleague Elly Yu came over and sat with me.

She had been reporting on the investigation into the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others.

"I just need to talk to another native Angeleno," she said. And we were sad together.

That's how L.A. mourned for weeks, publicly and with each other. There were musicos and mariachis playing at L.A. Live, televised tributes, social media posts, and so many murals painted that I assume an alien civilization will one day think Kobe ruled the kingdom of Los Angeles.

In many ways he did, and somehow still does. One more time, Kobe Bryant has united L.A. and, even in death, given us something to root for: our collective healing.

The very public mourning of Kobe Bryant culminates Monday with what is essentially a televised wake for him and Gigi at Staples Center, an arena he helped build both in fame and financial status.

There will be criticisms - though few public ones - about it being a "money grab." The tickets for Monday's memorial started at $24.02 and went as high as $224. All proceeds will go to the Bryant family charity. Nipsey Hussle's and Michael Jackson's memorials, on the other hand, were also at Staples but free to attend.

There are levels to this. Nipsey's funeral was out of control as far as scalpers go. People took the free tickets and resold them at very high prices.

The Kobe tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable. So there is some more control this way.

But ultimately, we've seen people who are sad and really good at marketing, and people who are just sad. While some of us are crippled by grief, others can continue to function. In fact, some of us will throw ourselves into work.

It's what we're good at.

Kobe Bryant with wife Vanessa and daughters Gianna (L) and Natalia during a ceremony honoring Bryant for moving into third place on the all time NBA scoring list. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant was a genius promoter.

At his last NBA game, his final words in a Lakers jersey were "Mamba out." And "Mamba Out" t-shirts were already available for purchase on his website.

I believe he would be proud of the marketing strategy behind this.

And I honestly don't see how it's different from the special edition Kobe magazines, the "Mamba Forever" t-shirts, or the many pieces of content intended to get clicks, likes and shares. Like this one you're reading.

We can be both sad and really good at marketing.

For me, the public mourning, Monday's memorial included, has been a way of sharing the burden of sorrow many of us have felt. I am thankful and proud that we have been able to cry together, and sing Juan Gabriel together, and pay our respects together.

We shouldn't have to carry it alone.

More importantly, neither should Vanessa Bryant and her other three daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. Nor should the loved ones of John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan.

They are all Angelenos.

We should sit with them and be sad together.