Michael Jordan speaks throughout The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Middle on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Pictures/AFP
A tearful Michael Jordan on Monday commemorated his “little brother” Kobe Bryant at a star-filled memorial in Los Angeles for the basketball nice and his daughter Gianna who died with seven others in a helicopter crash final month.
“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died, and as I look in this arena, across the globe, a piece of you died,” the NBA legend mentioned, tears streaming down his face.
“I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories and knowing that I had a little brother,” Jordan, extensively thought to be the best participant in historical past, added.
“I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace little brother.”
The general public memorial — dubbed “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” — was being held at Staples Middle, the sector the place Bryant wowed followers for 17 years, often known as “the house that Kobe built.”
The two/24 date carries particular significance because it coincides with Bryant’s jersey quantity — “24” — and Gianna’s “2” jersey quantity.
One other basketball nice, Shaquille O’Neal, who gained three NBA titles with Bryant, additionally spoke on the ceremony whereas a number of music stars, together with Beyonce and Alicia Keys, carried out.
“I’m here because I love Kobe,” mentioned the 70-time Grammy-nominated Beyonce as she launched into one in every of Bryant’s favorite songs “XO,” wearing a golden swimsuit — the color of the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant’s staff for 20 years.
‘He was my everything’
Bryant’s widow Vanessa paid a tearful tribute to her late husband and daughter, saying she couldn’t fathom life with out them.
“God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other,” Bryant mentioned in her first public remarks because the January 26 crash. “He had to bring them home together.”
She spoke of her heartbreak at not with the ability to watch Gianna, who was 13, develop up and lacking necessary moments of her life.
“I won’t be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day,” she mentioned by tears, receiving a standing ovation for the tribute.
“I’ll never get to see my baby girl walk down the aisle, have a father-daughter dance with her daddy.”
A visibly shaken Jimmy Kimmel — the comic officiated on the ceremony — mentioned he noticed Kobe and Gianna’s faces and jersey numbers all over the place in Los Angeles and past.
“All we can do is to be grateful for the time we had with them,” the late evening speak present host mentioned.
Amongst different celebrities attending the memorial had been filmmaker Spike Lee — who was shut buddies with Bryant and directed a documentary on his life — and rapper Snoop Dogg, an avid Lakers fan.
Lots of the followers fortunate sufficient to nab one of many a lot sought-after 20,000 tickets for the memorial wore the gold and purple colors of the Lakers as they headed for the two-and-a-half-hour ceremony being held amid tight safety.
“Kobe meant everything for this city, for this team and for me,” mentioned Karen Sanchez, 41, as she waited with buddies to enter the sector. “I watched him play from the beginning.”
Marcos Rojas, 23, one other ticketholder, mentioned Bryant’s January 26 demise close to Los Angeles had been devastating to followers like him who worshipped the participant.
“For me, it was like losing a friend,” mentioned Rojas who wore a Lakers jersey with Kobe’s quantity.
“I always watched him playing with my friends,” he advised AFP. “I always picked Kobe to play in my video games. I couldn’t leave home the day of his passing.”
These attending the memorial got a 24-page program with photos of Bryant and his household in addition to a pin and a black T-shirt that includes photos of Kobe and his daughter on the again.