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Sport LeBron James declines to say whether he attended Kobe Bryant memorial

00:10  26 february  2020
00:10  26 february  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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LOS ANGELES – For the past month, LeBron James has wrestled with grief over the loss of his boyhood idol.

The Los Angeles Lakers star has mentioned several times how difficult it has been for him. So difficult that it is possible James did not attend Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial Monday at Staples Center.

“I respect your question for sure, but it’s very emotional,” James said on Tuesday. “A very emotional day. A very tough day for myself, for my family, for everyone involved.”

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Some viewers were left wondering if James was in attendance because he didn't appear during the 2½-hour ceremony. Of course, that doesn't mean he wasn't there, watching from an undisclosed location.

James' agent Rich Paul did not return a text message USA TODAY Sports sent Monday asking for confirmation of James' attendance.

Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and former and current Lakers Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma were among one of the largest collections of basketball talent ever who attended.

Vanessa Bryant spoke about her late husband and 13-year-old daughter in a moving ceremony that also included remembrances from WNBA MVP and three-time champion Diana Taurasi, the top current college woman’s basketball player, Sabrina Ionescu, six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan, the Lakers’ general manager and Bryant's former agent, Rob Pelinka, and four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal.

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Kobe and Gianna Bryant will be honored Monday (1 p.m. ET) with a celebration of life service inside Staples Center. It isn't known whether Kobe 's wife, Vanessa, and their three surviving daughters, Natalia, Bianca LeBron James trashes his notes and speaks from the heart to honor Kobe Bryant

“One thing I can come out of it saying is how strong and how bold and how powerful Vanessa is,” James said Tuesday. “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. 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, it was a celebration but it was a difficult day for all of us.

“It’s never going to be a closure. 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. 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.”

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Like Bryant, James entered the NBA out of high school. He grew up admiring him and hoping to follow a similar path. They played for Team USA in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

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Five days after Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, James addressed the Staples Center crowd before a Lakers’ home game against Portland.

Since the NBA All-Star break last week in Chicago, though, James has fielded questions about Bryant before asking reporters to talk about basketball.

"It's been a celebration ever since we got the horrific news about his life and what he means to the game. But I don’t want to keep going back on it," James said Sunday. "I think it's unfair and unjust to his family as they're trying to move on and we're all trying to move on, but also know that he's with us.

"His jersey is sitting in my locker right now. But it just puts me in a difficult mind state if I continue to harp on it, if you can respect that."

Follow USA TODAY NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LeBron James declines to say whether he attended Kobe Bryant memorial

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