Words By Amar Gera / Image via Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times //
With the world losing one of its greatest talents on and off the court, it’s safe to say we all felt like we lost a piece of ourselves when Kobe and his daughter Gianna Bryant passed away along with nine others in a helicopter crash last month. Today, the world said goodbye to the Black Mamba and his daughter, but they definitely won’t be forgotten.
Family, friends, and fans gathered in the LA Staples Centre for the memorial of Kobe and Gianna Bryant. With the memorial being set to commence at 10am, thousands of mourners from as far as Alabama lined up outside the historic Staple’s centre, to bid the basketball superstar and his daughter a final goodbye.
The Kobe and Gianna Bryant memorial at Staples Center is set to commence at 10 AM. There are still thousands of mourners lined up outside waiting to get in.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 24, 2020
Beyonce opened the memorial for her dear friend Kobe & Gianna, singing songs ‘XO’ and ‘Halo’. Other stars in attendance included Jennifer Lopez, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Snoop Dogg and Jimmy Kimmel, as well as the entire NBA world.
Beyoncé opens the memorial for Kobe & Gigi Bryant. pic.twitter.com/hoeYfRyTCM
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) February 24, 2020
In a beautiful touching moment, Vanessa Bryant and her three daughters were greeted with a standing ovation as they entered the Staples centre, accompanied by Kobe’s close friend and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.
Among numerous friends of Kobe’s that paid tribute to the Black Mamba, easily the most important was the beautiful speech from his wife Vanessa, as she remembered the amazing husband he was and the gentle soul of her baby girl Gianna.
“We really had an amazing love story. We loved each other with our whole beings. Two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family, and raising our sweet and amazing girls”, when speaking on her husband.
When remembering her baby girl, her mother made sure we knew she was so much more than just a young basketball player “Gigi was sunshine. She brightened up my day everyday… She was our shepherd”.
Shaquille O’Neal also took to the stage, delivering the biggest smile of the day as he shared a witty encounter with his former teammate.
“There’s no ‘I’ in team” he told the Black Mamba.
“Yeah, but there’s an ‘m’ and an ‘e’ in that motherfucker”, Kobe replied.
NBA GOAT Michael Jordan took to the stage as well, talking about how Kobe was like a younger brother to him, and how Kobe was coming for his throne from the jump. “This kid had a passion like you would never know… What Kobe was for me was the inspiration that someone truly cared about the way I played the game or the way that he wanted to play the game. He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be, and, as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be”.
Joking around in between tears, the NBA legend added “Now he’s got me… I got to look at another crying meme for the next…” He’s not wrong, it’s another classic ‘Crying Jordan meme’, but I think in this case he gets a pass for it.
Through the tears you could feel the deep love MJ had for his little brother, the special mark the black Mamba left on him and the world “He can bring out the best in you, and he did that for me”.
There were so many more special moments during the memorial, but far too many to name. But it’s clear Kobe touched the world in a way no one else did, and that him and his baby girl Gigi will be forever missed. I think Franchesca Flores, a fan in attendance, summed it up best, saying “I want people to know he’s gone but he will be staying here forever”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Rest In Peace…