MILAN (AP) — AC Milan and its fans paid tribute to Kobe Bryant with lights and applause before and during Tuesday’s Italian Cup game against Torino at the San Siro stadium.
Bryant, who grew up in Italy between the ages of 6 and 13, was a devout Milan fan. The 18-time NBA All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers died Sunday with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California.
As Milan and Torino warmed up before the game, the words “Legends Never Die” and “SempreKobe” — a play on the “SempreMilan,” or “AlwaysMilan,” hashtag often used by the club — were displayed on the advertising boards around the San Siro while images of Bryant were shown on the giant screen.
Shortly before the teams walked out for the kickoff, the stadium was darkened and the public announcer paid tribute to Bryant while fans applauded and held up phone lights. The song “Who wants to live forever” by Queen was then played.
Several supporters wore Lakers jerseys with Bryant’s name on the back.
Both soccer teams also wore black armbands. In the 24th minute, fans around the stadium stood to applaud in tribute to Bryant, who wore No. 24. Fans also displayed a banner which read “Rest in peace Kobe and Gianna forever together.”
Earlier, Milan tweeted an interview with Bryant when he visited the club’s training facility a few years ago.
“Watching (Ruud) Gullit, (Frank) Rijkaard, (Marco) Van Basten and (Paolo) Maldini was always a dream for me,” Bryant said in Italian, wearing a Milan jersey. “It’s always been my favorite squad. Back in Los Angeles I have an AC Milan shirt and scarf inside my locker and I see them every day.”
Torino tweeted that it would “emotionally” stand by Milan’s side during the tribute “in memory of this sports legend.”
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports