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Capitol Christmas Tree to Be Illuminated Wednesday Evening

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The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be illuminated Wednesday night during a lighting ceremony on the West Lawn of the Capitol.

The star of the evening is a 60-foot blue spruce, which traveled to D.C. from New Mexico’s Carson National Forest and will be decked out with thousands of handcrafted ornaments from the people of New Mexico.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will light the tree during Wednesday night’s ceremony, which begins at 5 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The tree will then be lit each night through New Year’s Day.

It won’t be the week’s only high-profile lighting ceremony. The Christmas tree outside the White House will be illuminated during an event Thursday night, but only those who previously obtained tickets during a free lottery will be able to attend. However, D.C. residents and visitors will be able to view a lighting display nightly on the White House Ellipse from Dec. 9 to New Year’s Day. Called the Pathway of Peace, the walkway surrounding the tree will feature 56 state and territory trees decorated with unique handmade ornaments. 

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Watch Late-Night Hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and More Emotionally Pay Tribute to Kobe Bryant – NBC4 Washington

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The late-night community is feeling the loss of Kobe Bryant.

On Monday, hosts Jimmy FallonJimmy KimmelConan O’Brien and James Corden each delivered an emotional monologue honoring the late athlete, who died on Sunday in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others. Bryant was a frequent late-night guest and established a close bond with each of the stars.

Addressing “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” audience, Fallon recalled his first time meeting the L.A. Lakers legend, who was 17 at the time, at a party. The funnyman was 21 and just getting his start in Los Angeles as a stand-up comedian. Both being new to the city, they hit it off and went on a beer run.

“So, I go in, and I open the door and it’s locked,” Fallon said. “And the guy goes, ‘Sorry I can’t sell you anything…’ And then Kobe takes out his ID and he puts it up against the glass and he goes, ‘I’m a Laker.’ And the guy opened the door and we walked out with five cases of beer and we saved the party.”

For his part, Kimmel decided not to host “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in front of a studio audience, noting that “going forward with a comedy show didn’t feel right.” Speaking into the camera, the late-night host tried to make sense of the NBA all-star’s passing.

“Kobe was, and I know this might not make sense, but he was just the last person you could ever imagine something like this happening to,” he said of the 15-time Jimmy Kimmel Live guest. “He was so strong and handsome and smart and energetic. He was a hero…Once he retired from basketball, his life revolved around [daughters’ Gianna, Natalia Bryant, 16, Bianca Bryant, 3, and Capri Bryant, 7 months] lives. He was very proud of them. He loved being a father.”

Painting a picture of Bryant’s empathy as a parent, he recalled his reaction to learning that his son William Kimmel, 2, needed emergency heart surgery back in 2017. “When my son had heart surgery, he checked in with me repeatedly,” Kimmel said. “He made a point once Billy, my son, was out of the hospital to meet him…and from time to time he would check in to see how he was doing.”

Concluding his tribute, Kimmel became emotional: “He was a bright light and that’s how I want to remember him.” 

Over on “Conan,” O’Brien honored the fallen sports hero by showcasing his rarely seen sense of humor. “What I wanted to do was just take a moment here, at the top of the show, to highlight another aspect of Kobe’s talent,” the late-night host said. “He was naturally very funny and charming. He really was.”

Before playing a throwback interview with Bryant, O’Brien continued, “Whenever he was on our show, he was a joy to talk with and he always had the audience in the palm of his hand. That’s the guy that I’ve been thinking about these past 24 hours and it’s that memory that I’d like to share with you tonight.”  

During Corden’s “Late Late Show” monologue, the British entertainer spoke of the way Kobe’s talent reached millions, even those in places where basketball isn’t the biggest sport. “If you grow up in Britain, basketball is not a massive part of your life,” he shared. “Not many people play basketball at school. NBA games weren’t on television when I was growing up. But, there are some athletes that transcend their sport before you ever even get a chance to see them play and Kobe Bryant was one of those athletes.”

Recalling Bryant’s last visit on the show in 2016, Corden remembered the iconic basketball player sharing his retirement plans.

“I remember him saying to me that—he couldn’t stop talking about how excited he was to have all this free time to devote to his family and to coach his daughters,” he continued. “I remember loving hearing him talk about that. A man who had achieved so much in his life, he was so excited just to get to be a dad for a while. And our hearts break at this tragedy.”

Leaving the audience on an uplifting note, Corden said, “If you can take a moment, tonight, tomorrow, to call up someone you love and just let them know.” As the camera panned away from the “Cats” star, Bryant’s Lakers numbers were displayed on the show’s marquee and a montage of images from his past appearances played.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.) 

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Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg and More Stars Call for NBA to Change Logo to Honor Kobe Bryant – NBC4 Washington

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Kobe Bryant’s deeply devoted fanbase is doing what it takes to uphold the NBA legend’s legacy.

A little over 24 hours have passed since Bryant and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash while en route to to a basketball tournament held at the retired athlete’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif. As shockwaves reverberated across the world, Kobe’s famous peers and lifelong fans gathered to hold vigil and grapple with the devastating loss.

Among their efforts to honor him is a Change.org petition requesting that the NBA change its logo to feature Bryant. The logo currently features a silhouette of Jerry West, another L.A. Lakers great who described himself as a “surrogate father” to Bryant.

The petition, created by user “Nick M.” and featuring a a logo mockup by graphic artist Tyson Beck, is quickly approaching 1 million signatures. Several celebrities and athletes, including Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber and Meek Mill have called for the NBA to change the logo on social media.

Kobe Bryant: Life in Photos

“Couldn’t be a better time or all around athlete and person for it,” Usher wrote on Instagram, adding, “#changethelogo”

Adam Levine, Naomi Campbell and Vanessa Hudgens also shared their support for the initiative.

Though the NBA postponed the Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers scheduled for Tuesday out of respect for Kobe’s longtime team, several other organizations paid tribute by holding moments of silence before games, repping Kobe on their jerseys and shoes and taking 24-second shot clock violations in honor of his number on the Lakers.

The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team honored Gianna, who expressed her desire to play for the school, by displaying a No. 2 jersey and bouquet of flowers on a courtside seat.

Just this afternoon, authorities held a press conference to share more details from the ongoing investigation. NTSB Board Member Jennifer Homendy described the scene as “pretty devastating” and said the coroner’s office will continue recovering human remains for the next several days.

For more details on the fatal crash, find out everything we know so far here.

This article first appeared on eonline.com. More from eonline:

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Shaquille O’Neal Reveals His Biggest Regret Over Friendship With ‘Brother’ Kobe Bryant – NBC4 Washington

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You can’t talk about the Los Angeles Lakers’ history without bringing up Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

The two dominated the basketball court together from 1996 to 2004 and while they had their share of highs and lows of back then, the two later became like family.

When news broke that the 41-year-old NBA superstar had been killed in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, O’Neal took to Instagram to share a touching tribute to the legend that had helped him and the Lakers secure three consecutive NBA Championships from 2000 to 2002.

“There are no words to express the pain I’m going through right now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my niece Gigi &my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie,” O’Neal wrote, alongside a series of pictures of him and Bryant on and off the court.

On Monday, O’Neal paid tribute to his longtime friend on his podcast “The Big Podcast With Shaq,” opening up about the moment he found out about Kobe’s death, thinking it was a hoax, reaching out to Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, and how his shocking death is “going to hurt for a long, long time.”

Kobe Bryant: Life in Photos

“I’m not doing well. I’m sick. I’m just getting over the death of my sister… I haven’t been sleeping since [her] death, because it’s just, you know, not thinking about just the good times but thinking about the times where I could’ve [done something], or I could’ve said something, or I could’ve loved them more, or I could’ve shown them more support,” O’Neal says. “And the same thing hit when I found out this news. I was downstairs working out with Shaqir when my other son showed me the TMZ clip.”

The 47-year-old adds that when his son showed him the footage of the helicopter crash scene, he “yelled” at him to “get that s— out of my face” because he figured it was just a hoax.

“I didn’t want to believe it,” he continues. “Then everybody’s calling me, ‘Is that true? Is it true?’ So I’m like, it must not be a hoax because the whole world knows this information. So now I’m saying, please don’t be true. Please don’t be true, please don’t be true. And I’m watching and then you get the confirmation. Sad enough and then you know his daughter was with him. I didn’t do anything. I haven’t eaten. I haven’t slept. I’m looking at all the tapes. I’m sick right now.”

During the podcast episode, the retired NBA player also shared what his relationship with Bryant was like.

“Our relationship was that of brothers. We are brothers,” he continues. “When I saw Kobe and his daughters, loved them. When he saw my kids, loved them. If you looked at my kids’ Instagram… he talked to [Shareef O’Neal] yesterday morning… so all the stuff that is documented between us, it was never a dislike, it’s just, listen, this is what brothers do. I have a younger brother, we fight all the time but guess what? I love him.”

He adds, “And I love Kobe Bryant. I’m the first say hey, I got four rings and I know I couldn’t have gotten three without him […] I’m glad we became closer. But I just sit back and say, what if. What if?”

O’Neal’s 20-year-old son, Shareef, also took to Instagram to share the screenshots of Bryant privately messaging him to check in on him.

“I’m crying while reading these messages over,” the young basketball player wrote. “Even when I was at my worst you checked in on me so often, I really appreciate you for that.”

The former Laker continued, “I know he’s going to be remembered and all that stuff but I just wish he was here. I just wish I could say something to him.”

O’Neal also shared that he reached out to Vanessa on Sunday and spoke to her sister to offer his condolences. “My heart goes out to Vanessa because she lost two. She lost her beautiful Gigi who was born on the same day as my 13-year-old and that’s what really hurts,” he says. “Stuff like this will always hurt.”

When asked if there’s anything he wishes he could have done differently, O’Neal answered, “I wish I would’ve communicated more. But again, that’s just how we are.”

He explains, “Of course, when we saw each other it was love and respect and he looked out for the kids and I kept an eye on his daughter Gigi, she was a fabulous player. I just wish I could’ve talked to him like before. That’s it. Everything that happened, happened. A lot of people like to look at the negative side but as a Laker fan, the plan worked out perfectly. We won three in a row.”

This article first appeared on eonline.com. More from eonline:

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‘Palm Springs’ Sets a New Sundance Record in $17.5M Sale – NBC4 Washington

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The “Groundhog Day”-esque comedy “Palm Springs,” by Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island, has set a new acquisition record at the Sundance Film Festival by 69 cents.

The indie distributor Neon and the streaming service Hulu bought “Palm Springs” for exactly $17,500,000.69 in a sale announced Monday evening at the Park City festival. The previous record Sundance sale was the $17.5 million Fox Searchlight paid for Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation” in 2016.

In a statement, Samberg and his Lonely Island partners Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, along with producer Becky Sloviter, joked that the financial terms of the deal were unfavorable.

“We spent over $85 million of our own money on this movie, WE ARE TAKING A BATH on this deal,” they said. “We hope Neon and Hulu are happy but we definitely have a lot of explaining to do to our families.”

“Palm Springs,” directed by Max Barbakow, stars Samberg and Cristin Milioti as a pair of wedding guests who are trapped living the same day over again in the Southern California desert town. The film, one of the most obviously commercial at this year’s Sundance, drew acclaim after its premiere Sunday for its clever twist on the “Groundhog Day” premise.

Neon will give “Palm Springs” a theatrical release, with Hulu taking the film’s streaming rights. No release date was announced.

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Kobe Bryant Will Be Inducted Into Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2020 Class Without a Vote – NBC4 Washington

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Kobe Bryant’s legacy lives on.

On Monday, it was announced that the late athlete will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as part of its 2020 class. He is a first-ballot enshrinement and will be placed without a vote.

“The Hall of Fame joins the rest of the basketball world in mourning the untimely passing of Kobe Bryant, a nominee for the Class of 2020 and an icon of the game,” a spokesperson for The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame told E! News. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the Bryant Family and all of those affected by this tragedy. We look forward to announcing our Finalists at NBA All-Star Weekend and revealing the full Class of 2020 at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in April.”

Bryant will also be honored alongside fellow basketball stars Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. “Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. Kobe will be honored the way he should be,” Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said, according to The Athletic reporter Shams Charania.

Kobe Bryant: Life in Photos

Before retiring in 2016, Bryant had won five NBA titles during his 20-year professional basketball career. He was also named MVP of his 2007-08 season. Known as one of the best scorers in the league, he is no. 4 on the NBA’s all-time points list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and LeBron James, who surpassed Bryant’s record on Saturday.

News of his Hall of Fame induction comes one day after the L.A. Lakers legend passed away in a fatal helicopter crash at the age of 41. He and his daughter Gianna Bryant, 13, were among the nine victims of the accident, which was caused by foggy conditions.

In the wake of his passing, Bryant’s fellow teammates and friends have taken to social media to mourn the legendary player.

Shaquille O’Neal, who played on the Lakers with Bryant from 1996-2004, wrote, “There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of [losing] my [niece] Gigi &my brother @kobebryant. I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW.”

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Nicki Minaj’s Brother Sentenced to 25 to Life for Raping 11-Year-Old Girl – NBC4 Washington

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What to Know

  • Jelani Maraj, brother of rapper Nicki Minaj, was sentenced Monday morning to 25 years to life in prison for repeatedly raping an 11-year-old girl at his Long Island home, according to a spokesperson for the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office
  • Maraj was convicted in November of predatory sexual assault against a child in and endangering the welfare of a child
  • At his trial, the girl, who is now 14, testified she was repeatedly assaulted over eight months in 2015 at Maraj’s home in Baldwin

Jelani Maraj, brother of rapper Nicki Minaj, was sentenced Monday morning to 25 years to life in prison for repeatedly raping an 11-year-old girl at his Long Island home, a spokesperson for the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office told NBC News.

Maraj was convicted in November of predatory sexual assault against a child and endangering the welfare of a child.

Prosecutors sought the maximum sentences of 25 years to life in prison.

The judge sentenced Maraj to 25 years to life on the first count and 364 days on the second count, according to the district attorney’s office. These sentences will run concurrently.

At his conviction last year, his attorney said they planned to appeal.

The girl, who is now 14, testified she was repeatedly assaulted over eight months in 2015 at Maraj’s home in Baldwin.

Prosecutors said DNA evidence supported the allegations. The girl’s younger brother testified that he witnessed one assault.

Maraj’s lawyers said the rape allegations were concocted by the girl’s mother as part of a scheme to get Nicki Minaj to pay $25 million in hush money.

Neither Maraj or his sister testified at the trial.

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