Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, spoke about the pain of losing both a husband and daughter during Monday’s public memorial service, including the belief that Gianna was headed for WNBA stardom.
After coming out to a standing ovation from the capacity crowd at the Staples Center, Bryant spoke about both her late daughter and late husband during a moving 21-minute eulogy.
“They were so easy to love. They were funny, happy, silly; they loved life. They were so full of joy and adventure,” she said. “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi, and I got [Natalia], [Bianka] and [Capri]. We’re still the best team. We love and miss you, Boo Boo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again one day.”
Bryant also spoke about Gianna’s plans to follow her father and play professional basketball, saying, “Gigi most likely would have become the best player in the WNBA. She would have made a huge difference for women’s basketball.”
About Kobe, she said that during his playing days, he would get worried if he looked over at the beginning of the game and didn’t see her in her seat. “My smart a– would tell him that he wasn’t going to drop 81 points in the first ten minutes of a game.” She added that, after he retired, he took over picking their kids up from school. “I told him he couldn’t drop the ball once he took over,” she said.
After she finished, Bryant was helped off the stage by NBA legend Michael Jordan.
The service on Monday is being held at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, where Bryant played the majority of his career. Bryant won five titles with the Lakers, including a run of three titles in a row between 2000-2002 alongside co-star Shaquille O’Neal. Beyoncé Knowles kicked off the service by performing several songs, backed by a full band and backup singers.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna were killed in helicopter crash on Jan. 26 along with seven others.
Bryant played 20 seasons for the Lakers, beginning in 1996 when he became the first guard to go from high school to the pros. Other career accomplishments include winning league MVP in 2008, two NBA Finals MVPs, and leading the league in scoring twice, including in 2006, when he scored 81 points in a January game against the Toronto Raptors. Since retiring in 2016, he had started to focus more on his entertainment efforts — winning an Oscar in 2018 — and helping coach Gianna’s basketball team.