PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (CBS) — Many across the region took time to watch the tribute to Kobe Bryant on Monday, including those at Larry’s Steaks, one of Bryant’s favorite spots. Twenty-thousand mourners packed the Staples Center in Los Angeles to celebrate Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
“We consider ourselves like a family to him so we decided to do just a small memorial to him,” Larry’s Steaks owner Tony Elebah said.
Inside of Larry’s Steaks in Wynnefield, candles burned at the booth of Bryant’s favorite spot. The cheesesteak shop set up a memorial for Kobe and Gianna.
The NBA great visited the restaurant last year.
Elebah met Bryant in the early 1990s when he was a basketball player at Lower Merion High School.
“It’s sad because he died very young. We’re gonna miss him, seriously. My kids cry really so hard for him because they know him like a very close person to us and we’re going to miss shipping the cheesesteak to Los Angeles,” Elebah said.
Many of Bryant’s close friends watched his memorial service from Philly. Guy Stewart played with Bryant for three years at Lower Merion High School.
“He was just this guy that had a crazy sense of humor. He was very, very loving, even when he got really big and he’s always been pretty big to us. Whenever he would have that time with you, whether it’s once a year or 10 times a year, he would always just focus primarily on that conversation and block out all of the noise that’s around him,” Stewart said. “It was never really about basketball when we talked. It was more about life and he always made sure that he knew that and that everybody was aware of how much he cared.”
In Center City, about 100 high school students at Philadelphia Performing Arts, a string theory school, looked on. Many of the students were in tears.
“Life is short and it’s crazy how this one person was able to do so much in one life and make such an impact on so many people’s lives,” student Mahogany Wilkerson said.
Twelfth-grade basketball center Kylil Turner is still in shock.
“I feel as though he is, like this isn’t real,” Kylil said. “Like he’s still alive somewhere.”
Ninth-grade biology teacher Lucy Bates-Campbell brought her class down to the auditorium.
“I think to come together and get to really process it together, make sense of it together and move forward together is important,” Bates-Campbell said.
About 200 basketballs left for Bryant at Lower Merion High School at a memorial there have been distributed for use at about 20 Police Athletic League centers around Philadelphia.