Kobe Bryant's body has been returned to his family

A week and a half after Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and multiple other victims, the NBA legend's body was released by authorities and returned to his family, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's office. While this development is a stark reminder of the sad reality of the situation, it hopefully means that his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and his three other daughters, Natalie, Bianka, and Capri, can finally begin to move forward and grieve as they see fit.  

"#mybestfriend #theBestdaddy Miss you so much," Vanessa wrote on Instagram the same day her husband's body was released. She also shared a picture of Kobe flashing his signature bright smile and added a string of adoring hashtags: "#handsome #sweet #funny #silly #lovinghusband." Vanessa finished her message with a line that seemed to be directed toward the man who lived in and loved Italy: "Miss you saying, 'Bonjourno principessa/reina.'"

Vanessa now faces the excruciating task of planning funeral services for her husband and daughter. 

Kobe and Gianna Bryant's funeral details are still being finalized

No information has been released pertaining to a public and/or private funeral service for Kobe and Gianna Bryant. However, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told ABC7 that he would like to find a way to memorialize the basketball star who spent 20 years of his career with the L.A. Lakers before retiring in 2016. "[Kobe,] like the ocean, like the good weather that we have, he was such an integral part of not only how we saw ourselves, but how the world saw us," Garcetti said.

"People have sent the most amazing ideas for tributes," the mayor said. "We really want to listen to Vanessa, to the Lakers, and make sure that we have a chance and the right way to mourn together, as people have been doing spontaneously out on the streets..." Garcetti added, "Laying him to rest will be something which we are here, ready to help support the family however, wherever and whenever."

While we don't know yet how Kobe's funeral plans will proceed, we do know that three other victims of the crash, who were members of the same family, will be memorialized together.

A memorial for three other victims has been scheduled

The other victims of the horrible helicopter accident include three members of the same family: Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa. When the bodies of Kobe and Gianna Bryant were returned to their family, the remains of the other victims were also reportedly released.

A memorial will be held for John, Keri, and Alyssa on Feb. 10, 2020, just over two weeks after the tragedy that took their lives. Those who want to mourn alongside the trio's friends and family are invited to attend the services at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in California. "Needless to say ... there will be plenty of room so if you'd like to be a part of this, we'd love to have you!" Altobelli's brother, Tony, wrote in a Facebook post, according to the Associated Press.

This will be just one of many memorials that take place to honor those who were lost in this tragedy.

There are special plans for Kobe Bryant's memorial items

Not long after news first broke that Kobe Bryant and the other victims had been killed in the helicopter crash, fans of the NBA star began to arrive at the Staples Center, where he had played for so many years, to leave flowers and messages as a tribute. According to NBC News, "Letters, illustrations, signs, and flags were among the items left at the memorial. So were 1,353 basketballs that have been boxed. ... Additionally, 14 banners, 25,000 candles, 5,000 letters, ... 500 stuffed animals, and hundreds of shoes were also collected."

Those who left gifts will be glad to know that their contributions will end up in a special place. According to NBC News, "[a]t the request of Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa, she will be given some of the items left by thousands of fans at the makeshift memorial for the NBA legend at the Los Angeles Lakers' Staples Center."

As for the flowers, Lee Zeidman, president of the Staples Center, the Microsoft Theater, and L.A. LIVE,  tweeted: "Cleanup continues and we have filled a full 40 yard roll off trash bin with flowers. These we be made into mulch and spread throughout the landscaping around @LALIVE⁩ and ⁦@STAPLESCenter⁩ so that the love all of the fans brought to LA Live lives on."