Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesA public memorial service took place Monday at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to honor NBA great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, nearly one month after the helicopter crash that took their lives.
Beyoncé opened the service performing her hit “XO” — which she said was one of Bryant’s favorite songs — followed by “Halo.”
Among the speakers was Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, who emotionally opened up about her memories of her husband and daughter. She called her husband the best “girl dad,” who taught their four daughters “how to be brave and keep pushing forward when things get tough.”
Bryant also described her late husband as a “doting” and “hands-on” father and who helped bathe their kids, sing them “silly songs,” and had bedtime “down to a science.”
“I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband and father he was,” Vanessa said. “The kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes.”
Fellow NBA great and close friend Michael Jordan also delivered an emotional tribute at the event.
“[A]s 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,” said Jordan. “He left it all on the floor.”
Tears streamed down Jordan’s face as he declared he wanted to the “best big brother I could be” for Bryant.
Former teammate Shaquille O’Neal told the 20,000 mourners that “Kobe and I always held a deep respect and love for one another,” calling him “Heaven’s MVP.”
Christina Aguilera sang a stirring rendition of “Ave Maria,” and the Staples Center fell silent as Alicia Keys performed Beethoven‘s “Moonlight Sonata.”
Jimmy Kimmel, who served as an emcee for the memorial, cried as he recounted how Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s faces are now plastered on walls across the world. He called the service a “celebration of life, of their lives, and of life itself, in the building where those of us who are Lakers fans and Kobe fans celebrated so many of the best times of our lives.”
“It seems to me that all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them and for the time we have left with each other,” Kimmel said.
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