Nearly a month after the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, a memorial took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to honor their lives. The star-studded event began with Beyoncé performing with a choir, as she sang “XO” because it was one of Kobe’s favorites.
Jimmy Kimmel gave the opening monologue and was emotional from the beginning as he tried to hold back tears as he spoke on the Los Angeles Lakers legend.
“Everywhere you go, you see his face, his number, Gigi’s face, Gigi’s number, everywhere, at every intersection. There are hundreds of murals painted by artists who are inspired not because he is a basketball player, but because Kobe was an artist, too.”
Vanessa Bryant then took the stage to speak first on Gianna, celebrating her life that was cut too short. She spoke on her daughter’s sweet soul, how she kissed her religiously every morning and night, and how amazing a basketball player she was becoming.
“Gigi would have most likely become the best player in the WNBA,” Vanessa Bryant said. “She would have made a huge difference for women’s basketball. Gigi was motivated to change the way everyone viewed women in sports.”
“Her smile took up her face, like mine. Kobe always said she was me. She had my fire, my personality and sarcasm, she was tender and loving on the inside. She had the best laugh. It was infectious. It was pure and genuine,” she continued.
Vanessa then spoke on Kobe Bryant the man, not the basketball player. She explained how after retiring from the NBA in 2016 he became a doting father, taking his kids to school every day and just spending more time with them.
“I couldn’t see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player. He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children. He was my everything,” she said of her husband.
With Gigi set to take women’s basketball by storm in a few years, two players she looked up to, Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu, took the stage to talk about Kobe’s influence on them and how much potential Gianna had. Taurasi even managed to throw in a lighthearted LeBron joke.
Gianna was set on playing for the UCONN Huskies, so the women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma also spoke on the 13-year-old, and was followed by Lakers GM Rob Pelinka– who was also Gigi’s godfather.
After a performance from Alicia Keys, another one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan spoke on his relationship with Bryant and how the two went from rivals to close friends.
Jordan cried through much of his speech, and even joked that he’d inadvertently given the world another crying meme.
The memorial ended with the crowd viewing Kobe’s Oscar-winning short film Dear Basketball.
All of the proceeds from the tickets sales will be donated to the Mamba & Mambacita sports foundation, which you can also contribute to, here.