NBA and basketball fans knew they were going to enter a rollercoaster of emotions when Vanessa Bryant announced Kobe and Gianna’s public memorial service. The event was held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles Monday to honor NBA great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, nearly one month after the helicopter crash that took their lives.
It all started with Beyonce Knowles, who took the stage and began singing her hit "XO," which she said was one of Kobe's favorite songs.
"I'm here because I love Kobe," she said before encouraging the rest of the crowd to join her in song.
Beyoncé also sang her single "Halo."
"Halos don't fade away," she improvised during the chorus.
After that, Jimmy Kimmel introduced Vanessa Bryant, who gave us a moving tribute to her daughter and husband.
"Thank you all so much for being here," she said. "It means so much to us."
Vanessa began by talking about Gianna and how she always showed her love with a morning and nightly kiss.
"Gianna never tried to conform," Vanessa said. "She was always herself."
She also lamented on what "Gigi" will not experience in this life: her wedding day, never driving a car or attending high school, the chance to become the best player in WNBA history.
"I miss you every day. I love you," Vanessa said before talking about Kobe and the great father and husband he was.
"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.""I couldn't see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player," she said. "He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children. He was my—he was my everything."
She also talked about the close relationship between Kobe and Gigi and the fact that they couldn't be without each other.
"God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other," Vanessa said. "He had to bring them home together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I got Nati, Bibi and Coco. ... May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again one day."
After that, Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu spoke about the Bryants, recalling how Kobe cared about them and how interested he was in making women basketball bigger.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, Bryant's close friend and former agent, and godfather to Gianna, said the Lakers legend celebrated turning 40 with a vacation at a beautiful resort, where he still wanted to "watch Team Mamba game film with Gigi."
Pelinka described Bryant as the "baby whisperer" who had the "golden touch" and loved to cuddle with his daughters.
"The day after Kobe was gone, I was at home and feeling totally lost," Pelinka said. "I couldn’t imagine life without the strength and guidance of my best friend.”
Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan also had the chance to speak, remembering his ‘little brother’ and how his lost affected him.
"When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died," he said.
MJ also said he wanted to be the "best big brother I could be" for Bryant.
He even joked that his appearance will generate "another crying meme."
"I told my wife I wasn't going to do this because I didn't want to see that for the next three or four years," he said. "That is what Kobe Bryant does to me."
Jordan said "as a basketball player, as a businessman, and a storyteller, and as father, in the game of basketball, in life, as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank. He left it all on the floor."
"Kobe gave every last ounce of himself to whatever he was doing," Jordan said. "After basketball he showed a creative side ... that I didn't think any of us knew he had."
"In retirement he seemed so happy, he found new passions and he continued to give back as a coach, in his community," Jordan said. "More importantly, he was an amazing dad, amazing husband, who dedicated himself to his family and who loved his daughters with all his heart.
"Kobe never left anything on the court," he said. "And I think that's what he would want for us to do. No one knows how much time we have, that's why we must live in the moment."
Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe’s former teammate, told the 20,000 mourners that "Kobe and I always held a deep respect and love for one another," calling him "Heaven's MVP."
He also told a curious story about Kobe not passing him the ball, with the Black Mamba replying as only he could.
This is a loss that will take a lot to process and even more to accept. Kobe Bryant is a complete legend and his presence will be very missed by everyone. May he rest in peace.
You can watch the full event here: