Basketballs, sneakers, jerseys, and hats left outside Lower Merion High School in memory of Kobe Bryant were cleared from the school this weekend, but they’ll get a new life elsewhere.
Officials on Sunday removed a large makeshift memorial that had accumulated outside the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium since the basketball legend and Lower Merion graduate died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, district spokesperson Amy Buckman said. The tribute was cleared so students “could return to more of a sense of normalcy upon arriving at school” Monday, she added.
And while most of the paper tributes like signs and cards didn’t survive the rain that fell over the weekend, school officials are working to donate what was left.
Buckman said the school was working with the Philadelphia Police Department with the hope of donating the many basketballs — many scrawled with “RIP” and personal messages — to Police Athletic League centers in the city or other community organizations that benefit youths through sports.
She said school officials were also working to dry out the many sneakers, stuffed animals, and clothing items to donate to local charities that they’re still working to identify.
Following news of the death of Bryant, killed in the crash alongside 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, fans in the Philadelphia region almost immediately turned to his alma mater as a space to grieve. Over the last week, the memorial grew to include hundreds of items that were dropped off in Bryant’s memory, from candles to balloons, flowers, and food items.
On the other side of the country, fans gathered Sunday at the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers, for what was designated as the final day of memorials for Bryant, according to the Los Angeles Times.