- A public memorial was held at Staples Centre on Monday night to honour Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant and the seven others who died in a helicopter crash on January 26.
- The event, which was held symbolically on February 24, or 2/24, a tribute to Gigi’s and Kobe’s respective jersey numbers, featured musical tributes, speeches from friends and former teammates, and a eulogy from Kobe’s wife and Gigi’s mum, Vanessa Bryant.
- Here are nine moving moments from the memorial.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Vanessa Bryant paid tribute to her husband.
“He was my everything,” Bryant said of her husband. She described not a celebrity or a basketball icon but just her “sweet husband.”
She described the couple’s relationship and the bond they shared.
“I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidante, and his protector,” she said. “He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words … He would do anything for me. I have no idea how I deserved a man that loved and wanted me more than Kobe.”
She said she hoped the two would grow old together.
Jimmy Kimmel cried as he talked about the nine people who died in the crash.
“This is a sad day, but it is also a celebration of life,” Kimmel said.
The “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” host had the crowd in tears as he honoured the nine people who died in the January 26 helicopter crash.
“She was so full of life and had so much more to offer the world,” Vanessa Bryant said of her daughter Gigi.
Bryant spoke about how she wouldn’t be able to see Gigi grow up and accomplish great things, her daughter’s love for basketball, and her commitment to change the perception of women in sports.
“She was a beautiful, kind, happy, silly, thoughtful and loving daughter and sister,” Bryant said.
Beyoncé sang one of Kobe Bryant’s favourite songs.
Beyoncé opened the memorial with one of Kobe Bryant’s favourite songs.
The singer asked the crowd to join her as she sang a rendition of “XO,” from her 2013 album, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ general manager, spoke on his friendship with Kobe and being a #girldad.
Pelinka began his speech by asking whether the audience members remembered where they were on the day of the helicopter crash, describing it as “when the axis of the world seemed to shift forever for all of us.”
The Lakers’ general manager said he was texting Kobe Bryant before the crash and despite wanting to put down the phone felt a “nudge” to reply.
He said Bryant was texting him for help to secure an internship for Lexi Altobelli, whose father, Orange Coast College coach John Altobelli; mother, Keri Altobelli; and sister, Alyssa Altobelli, also died in the crash.
“He wanted to use his platform to bless and shape a young girl’s future,” Pelinka said.
— Variety (@Variety) February 24, 2020
Phoenix Mercury player Diana Taurasi also spoke about Kobe Bryant and Gigi.
Taurasi, also known as White Mamba, not only spoke on how Bryant inspired her but also her interactions with Gigi.
The Phoenix Mercury player reminisced on watching Bryant play for the Lakers when she was starting her career in college.
“He made it OK to play with an edge that borderlined crazy,” Taurasi said. “Early-onset Mamba mentality was in full effect,” she said.
She spoke on the passion and skill she saw in Gigi.
“The same passion we saw in Kobe, obviously Gigi inherited,” she said.
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) February 24, 2020
Alicia Keys performed “Moonlight Sonata.”
Keys also performed a favourite song of Kobe and Vanessa’s. Images of the couple were shown on the Jumbotron, as Keys played Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano.
Keys also paid tribute to Kobe Bryant when she hosted the Grammys this year, which fell on the same day as the helicopter crash.
NBA legend Michael Jordan joked about his crying meme while giving a tearful speech.
In the midst of a heartfelt eulogy to his fellow basketball icon, Jordan laughed that he was being set up for another “Crying Jordan” meme.
“Now he’s got me – I’ll have to look at another crying meme for the next -,” Jordan said with tears streaming down his face, before getting cut off by laughs and applause. “I told my wife I wasn’t going to do this because I didn’t want to see this for the next three or four years. That is what Kobe Bryant does to me.”
Shaquille O’Neal got the crowd laughing with Kobe memories.
O’Neal began his speech by saying he never imagined he would be speaking at Kobe Bryant’s memorial.
“It pains me to my core,” he said.
The two won three consecutive NBA championships together, and O’Neill acknowledged their complicated relationship. He said he was grieving for his “brother.”
He reminisced on their many interactions.
The crowd erupted in laughter when O’Neill told the story of a time when other players complained that Bryant wasn’t passing the ball. O’Neill said he told him, “Kobe, there’s no ‘I’ in team,” to which Bryant replied, “I know, but there is an ‘m’ ‘e’ in that motherf—er.”
- Read more:
- ‘When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died’: Michael Jordan remembers fellow NBA legend Kobe Bryant like a ‘little brother’
- Michael Jordan provided a moment of levity at the memorial service for Kobe and Gigi Bryant: ‘Now he’s got me – I’ll have to look at another crying meme’
- ‘He was my everything’: Vanessa Bryant said she and Kobe had ‘hoped to grow old together’ in a tearful eulogy to her late husband
- ‘She was so full of life’: Vanessa Bryant laments not being able to watch her daughter grow up at the memorial for Gianna and Kobe