A year ago, Kobe Bryant and Gianna were honoured at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. What was Bryant's home stadium for twenty years was the perfect place for fans to bid their legend adieu, completed with eulogies and speeches from Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Vanessa Bryant and many more. NBA players were among the audience, while the whole memorial was also broadcast.
Vanessa Bryant remembered Kobe and Gigi with tears, sharing about the loving husband and father who wrote letters and cards, and arrived early for school pickups. Rob Pelinka spoke about his last texts with the five-time NBA champion, and how he was trying to look for an internship for a friend's daughter – also on the helicopter that claimed nine lives on January 26, 2020.
Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera also attended the memorial. In the end, Bryant's Academy Award-winning short film "Dear Basketball" was shown. Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Pau Gasol, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Dwyane Wade and Phil Jackson were among many other stars who attended.
"I couldn’t see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player," Vanessa Bryant said. "He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of my children. He was mine. He was my everything". Vanessa spoke about God taking them both together, reminding him that they are the best team.
WNBA stars Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu along with University of Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma also took the stage, speaking about Gianna, already on her way to become a great basketball player. "If I represented the present of the women’s game, Gigi represented the future, and Kobe knew it," said Ionescu.
Jordan spoke about his bond with the Lakers legend, and how he was like a little brother to him. Jordan added that while people were busy comparing him and Bryant, all he wanted to do was talk to Kobe Bryant. The late legend was like his sibling, reaching out to him at odd hours. When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of Michael Jordan died with him. Jordan promised to live with their memories and knew that he tried to help in every way he could.
Towards the end of his speech, Jordan even said that he told his wife that he did not want to deliver a speech as it could result in a new Michael Jordan crying meme. The entire stadium, who were in tears during the speech, laughed after the Chicago Bulls legend cracked the joke. The camera even spanned over Vanessa, who managed to smile after Jordan's joke.