Today was the public memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant. The event was held at The Staples Center, with over 20,000 fans in attendance. Also celebrated during the monument were the other seven victims of the helicopter, Payton Chester, 13; Sarah Chester, 45; Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and Ara Zobayan, 50.
Beyonce started off the celebration by performing “XO” and “Halo.” Alicia Keys also performed “Moonlight Sonata,” as it was one of Kobe and Vanessa’s favorite songs. Christina Aguilera wrapped up the ceremony, performing “Ave Maria.”
During the ceremony, Jimmy Kimmel was the first to speak, and he introduced Vanessa Bryant. An emotional Bryant told stories about both Kobe and Gianna, also explaining how much the two had in common. She discussed Gianna’s personality, sense of humor, and go-to style. Vanessa said, “I miss her sweet kisses, her cleverness… Gigi was sunshine, she brightened up my day, every day,” Vanessa said. She also discussed the moments she wouldn’t be able to see her daughter complete, including attending high school, walking down the aisle in her wedding, and have babies.
When talking about Kobe, Vanessa referred to him by some of his nicknames, including “Koko, my Boo Boo, my Bae Boo, my Papi Chulo.” She also reminisced about their love story, which began when she was 17 and a half. “We balanced each other out,” she shared before speaking about how romantic Kobe was. She shared that he always looked forward to Valentine’s Day and their anniversaries. He even gave her the dress and actual dress and notebook from The Notebook. She also revealed that Kobe loved being the MVP or “MVD” of girl dads, “he never left the toilet seat up.” Vanessa joked. She received a standing ovation after speaking.
Celebrities in attendance during the event included LL Cool J, Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, and Kerri Walsh. Others who gave speeches were Sabrina Ionescu, Diana Taurasi, Geno Auriemma, Rob Pelinka, Shaquille O’Neal, and Michael Jordan.
During Michael’s speech, he spoke about how Kobe Bryant was always like a little brother. “You know, all of us have brothers, sisters, little brothers, little sisters, for whatever reason always tend to get in your stuff, your closet, your shoes, everything. It was a nuisance if I can say that word, but that nuisance turned into love over time.” He added, “This kid had passion like you would never know. It’s an amazing thing about passion. If you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you will go to the extreme to try to understand or try to get it. He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be. As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.” Jordan also mentioned how Kobe would often text him at all hours of the night, asking about basketball and trying to learn information to make him a better player. At one point, Michael Jordan, who was visibly choked up, joked about how after his speech, he will probably be on yet another crying meme.
Many fans took to social media to reflect and discuss the memorial. See some of the tweets below.