Thu | Apr 2, 2020

Bryant, Gianna remembered in emotional ceremony

Published:Tuesday | February 25, 2020 | 12:21 AM
Vanessa Bryant (right) is helped off the stage by former NBA player Michael Jordan after speaking during a celebration of life for her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter Gianna yesterday in Los Angeles.
Vanessa Bryant (right) is helped off the stage by former NBA player Michael Jordan after speaking during a celebration of life for her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter Gianna yesterday in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES (AP):

Kobe Bryant’s wife offered a poignant portrait of her NBA superstar husband and their daughter yesterday 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 time 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 Beyoncé performing her songs XO and Halo with dozens of backup musicians.

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

Amazing husband

“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 crowd 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, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook.

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, held on a 24-foot-by-24-foot stage. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, chose February 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 for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on Feb ruary 7.