By Leader Editor Kara Apel

The new year began on a tragic note with the untimely deaths of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, along with seven others, after a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA, last month.

It was an event that shocked the nation – and the world – and the outpouring of grief has revealed just how much people can admire and respect a man they’ve never met.

What those of us in the deathcare industry can learn from this is how much personalized details are valued when it comes to working through a loss. It shows that people cherish the opportunity to engage in unique tributes when it comes to someone they love.

One specific way Bryant’s family, friends, and fans have been paying tribute to him and his daughter, Gianna, is by incorporating their basketball jersey numbers in different ways. Bryant wore numbers 24 and 8 during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, while his daughter wore number 2 on the teams she played for.

Around the country, there have been videos circulating of basketball teams of all levels stopping to take 24-second or 8-second shot clock violations in honor of Bryant’s jersey numbers.

The Grammys were held the night of Bryant’s death inside the Staples Center. During the awards show, host Alicia Keys took a moment to honor Bryant, calling the Staples Center “the house that Kobe built” before the camera panned to his jerseys, which were lit up on the wall. She also performed a song with Boyz II Men in his honor. Outside the arena, fans gathered to drop off flowers, candles, and artwork to express their grief.

The Los Angeles Lakers recently paid tribute to 41-year-old Bryant and the other victims with a thoughtful ceremony featuring music, videos, and more. The team also observed 24.2 seconds of silence, paying tribute to both Bryant and his daughter’s jersey numbers.

The Los Angeles Lakers honored Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center.

People who never even met Bryant have felt compelled to show their support. A funeral home in Dayton, OH, collected signatures in a register book to send to his family.

A public celebration of life service for Bryant and his daughter will be held at the Staples Center at 10 a.m. on Feb. 24 – 2/24/20. The date of the service is also a tribute to their jersey numbers, along with the number 20, which is the number of years Bryant spent with the Lakers. Additional details about the service have not been announced yet. The Staples Center, which seats around 20,000, has been previously used for high-profile memorial services.

Whether you’re serving a high-profile family or not, it’s important to note just how much the small details matter to their loved ones. When adding personalized touches to a service, many funeral directors have great ideas – like showcasing someone’s favorite color or song or planning a service around their hobbies, but there are other options to consider too.

All of the tributes to Bryant and his daughter have illustrated how much meaning a number can have in someone’s life. A number is not an idea that most of us may think about when it comes time to share the story of someone’s life.

There are other ideas to consider as well – what about nicknames? Or what about highlighting someone’s career?

One lesson we can all take away from the tributes to Bryant and his daughter is that personalized tributes matter – and more families will come to expect unique services in the future. What you need to consider is how will you serve families who will have this expectation.

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