Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa remembers husband, daughter at LA memorial service as she pens down a touching tribute for them with seven others who died in a helicopter crash last month.
The memorial was held at Staples Center, where Bryant played for most of his entire 20-year NBA career with the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers.
“They were funny, happy, silly and they loved life,” Vanessa said. “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together.”
She praised her husband as the best “girl dad” who taught their daughters “how to be brave and keep pushing forward when things get tough.”
“I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband, and father he was,” she said. “The kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes.”
She also declared that Gianna would have gone on to be a great mother and would have followed her father’s footsteps pursuing a career in basketball and could have been the best player in the WNBA.
“Gigi was sunshine,” she said. “She brightened up my day every day.”
Also, former basketball legend Michael Jordan recalled his role as a “big brother” figure to Bryant, whom he said would often call him at all hours of the day for advice.
“It was an aggravation. But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had a passion like you would never know,” Jordan said.
“What Kobe Bryant was to 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 he could be and as I got to know him I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.”
Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s former teammate lamented that his life ended too soon and promised to look after his daughters.
“Now it’s time for us to continue your legacy,” he said. “You said yourself that everything negative, pressure, challenges, are is all an opportunity for me to rise. So we now take that sage advice to rise from anguish and begin with the healing.”
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel couldn’t hold he tears, describing his feelings for Bryant, saying, “I don’t think any of us could have imagined this.”
The event was attended by a roster of all-time NBA greats including Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, and former Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Jerry West. It began with a musical performance by Beyoncé, who said she was there “because I love Kobe” before performing the song XO.