Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

PHOTOS: Los Angeles honours Kobe Bryant and daughter with public memorial

Mourners included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan

Kobe Bryant’s wife offered a poignant portrait of her NBA superstar husband and their daughter Monday at a sold-out memorial service for the two, who were among nine people killed last month in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.

Speaking at times through tears, Vanessa Bryant praised her husband’s devotion as she addressed thousands of fans gathered at Staples Center to remember Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna.

“God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other,” Vanessa Bryant said. “He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi.”

The service took place at the downtown arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 17 seasons of his two-decade NBA career.

The ceremony began with Beyonce performing her songs “XO” and “Halo” with dozens dozens of backup musicians. Alicia Keys performed Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” later in the program.

After Jimmy Kimmel welcomed the crowd, Vanessa Bryant remembered the family’s life with Gianna and her three siblings and then eulogized her husband. They had been together since 1999.

“He was the most amazing husband,” she said. “Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. I was fire. He was ice. Vice versa at times. … He was my everything.”

The mourners included Lakers greats such as Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Pau Gasol. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson and dozens of current NBA players, including Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles natives James Harden, Russell Westbrook and DeMar DeRozan. Celebrities such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez also attended.

Vanessa Bryant was followed on the podium by basketball stars Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu. Kobe Bryant was a passionate advocate for women’s basketball, and Gigi Bryant was a promising young player.

“If I represented the present of the women’s game, Gigi represented the future, and Kobe knew it,” said Ionescu, the Oregon star who was mentored by Bryant.

University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma was followed by Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s longtime agent before he became the Lakers’ general manager in 2017. Pelinka was Gigi Bryant’s godfather, and their families were close.

Pelinka referred to the day of the crash as “when the axis of the world seemed to shift forever, for all of us.”

He also revealed that Bryant had texted him only moments before the crash, asking for help in securing an internship with a baseball agent for teenager Alexis Altobelli, who lost her parents and younger sister in the crash moments later.

“Kobe lived to make other people’s lives better, all the way up to his final text,” Pelinka said.

The concourse was a sea of people dressed in the team colours of purple and yellow and others in black. On the scoreboard, the Bryant family’s life flashes by in pictures.

The service began just hours after Vanessa Bryant sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in the fog last month. The wrongful-death lawsuit claimed that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions.

Symbolic meanings ran throughout the ceremony, which was held on a 24-foot-by-24-foot stage. Vanessa chose Feb. 24 as the date in honour of the uniform numbers of Kobe and Gianna, who wore No. 2 on her youth basketball teams.

A private funeral was held in Orange County on Feb. 7.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

NBA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Former Los Angeles Lakers watch during a celebration of life for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Fans arrive for a celebration of life for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Fans line up to get into the Staples Center to attend a public memorial for former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in Los Angeles, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

In this Aug. 4, 2012 file photo Kobe Bryant with his wife Vanessa and daughter Gianna prepare to watch the final night of swimming at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill,File)

Just Posted

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

Graffiti sprayed on 100 Mile Community Hall

‘We’re having a hard time through this COVID’

Have you been following the Justin Trudeau and WE Charity story?

The weekly web poll for the 100 Mile Free Press

Highway 97 to be repaved in 100 Mile House following complaints

‘It’s been over a month now since those holes have been developing’

South Cariboo piano students see success at online exams

‘I like learning new songs and then actually getting to play them well’

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read