Simple act of kindness with flowers sums up Los Angeles' love affair with Kobe Bryant

Remembering Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna (Getty/AP Images)

Great athletes transcend the field of play, etching their aura into the tapestry of the cities they represent.

Few others in American sports have connected with a fanbase quite like Kobe Bryant did with Los Angeles, which built a rabid love affair with the future Hall of Famer through the ups and downs of his 20-year Lakers career.

Bryant died suddenly and tragically on Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others.

Bryant’s death prompted an outpouring of grief and mourning not only in the basketball community, but among world leaders and the greater public.

Perhaps in no public setting did Bryant’s death make a stronger impact than in Los Angeles, which rallied to pay homage to its fallen son as soon as the news broke.

Free flowers for Kobe

A simple act of kindness in the immediate aftermath of his death sums up the city’s feelings for Bryant.

Yahoo Sports social media editor Zach Schwartz went to Staples Center Sunday afternoon to pay his respects and document the scene. He stopped to buy purple and yellow flowers on the way.

When he tried to pay, he instead found himself on the receiving end of an act of kindness.

For Kobe’s sake.

When his story caught the attention of social media, so did the purveyor of kindness who gifted Schwartz his flowers.

Tributes take over L.A.

Schwartz’s experience was one of countless displays of gratitude and mourning for Bryant throughout the day as the city coped with a sudden, devastating loss.

Schwartz got his footage, taking video of an impromptu gathering of fans who paid tribute to Bryant at the downtown entertainment complex L.A. Live.

The setting became an epicenter for Kobe tributes as stars showed up to Staples Center for the Grammy Awards on Sunday night.

Kobe Bryant's death inspired the best of Los Angeles as the city gathered to mourn a fallen hero. (Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP)

Artist Alicia Keys paid homage while speaking in “the house that Kobe Bryant built” as Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys hanging in the rafters remained lit for the ceremony.

A city lit in purple and gold

Elsewhere in L.A., iconic spots lit up in purple in gold in honor of Bryant.

Fans flocked to a streetside mural of Bryant.

And they stood in line to sign their names to a tribute set up by the Lakers.

Bryant made such an impact that Magic Johnson — arguably the most popular player in NBA history — called Bryant the greatest Los Angeles Laker ever upon his retirement.

And a large swath of Lakers fans who adore Johnson wouldn’t disagree.

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