Vigil honors Bryant, others who died in crash

Published 10:04 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A Saturday night event to pay tribute to late basketball player Kobe Bryant was sparsely attended, but organizer Geral “Bishop” Staten was undeterred in his mission.

Attributing the low turnout to the chilly temperature at 7 p.m., Staten made his remarks near the center of Constant’s Wharf Park, with the circle of six attendees surrounding a group of flickering candles.

“A lot of people loved Kobe,” Staten said. “He was the pinnacle of a star basketball player.”

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The renowned basketballer, his daughter Gianna and seven others died when their helicopter crashed Sunday morning in Calabasas, Calif., near Los Angeles.

Bryant, 41, had a 20-year career in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers. He led the NBA in scoring during two of those seasons and is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

“Kobe really impacted the game,” Staten said. “This is a tough pill to swallow. We’re showing love in Suffolk, Virginia; I wouldn’t let it just vanish and not have it here in Suffolk.”

Staten called the names of all of those killed in the crash: Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan.

Pastor Deon Gatling prayed at the candlelight vigil after Staten offered the Lord’s Prayer.

Two of the attendees were Joe Goodman, who wore a Lakers hat, and his wife, Estelle Goodman. They are from Suffolk and previously lived in California due to their military service, becoming fans of many California pro sports teams, including the Lakers and San Francisco 49ers.

“We came to know the whole area, really,” Joe Goodman said.

Their 30-year-old son still lives there and is “a Kobe diehard,” Joe Goodman said.

They drove from North Suffolk to attend the vigil. “We saw it in the newspaper and wanted to be a part,” Estelle Goodman said.