Emotional Moments From Kobe & Gianna’s Tearful Memorial Service

The public memorial - dubbed “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” - was being held at Staples Center.

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A star-studded memorial ceremony took place in Los Angeles for basketball great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna who died along with seven others in a helicopter crash last month.

The public memorial -- dubbed “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” -- was being held at Staples Center, the arena where Bryant wowed fans for 17 years.

The 2/24 date for the memorial carries special significance as it coincides with Bryant's jersey number -- "24" -- and Gianna's "2" jersey number.

Fellow NBA legends Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell were among those attending the memorial on Monday along with Bryant family members and fans.

Here’s a look at some of the emotional moments from the ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, 24 February.


Beyonce’s Opening Act

Beyonce kicked off a star-studded memorial ceremony in Los Angeles for basketball great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna who died along with seven others in a helicopter crash last month.

"I'm here because I love Kobe," said the 70-time Grammy-nominated artist as she launched into one of Bryant's favorite songs "XO," dressed in a golden suit -- the colour of the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant's team for two decades.

"This was one of his favorite songs...I want you to sing it so loud that he hears your love,” said Beyonce during her performance.


Jimmy Kimmel & Kobe Chant

Late night host Jimmy Kimmel spoke first at the public memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. He said the world could be “grateful for the time we had with them."

An emotional Kimmel said that a positive thing he found to take away from the tragedy was gratitude for the lives of the nine people killed last month in a helicopter crash and “the time we have left with each other."

Kimmel said sports is unique in that it brings together people from various backgrounds to celebrate something they all love.

Nearly the entire crowd heeded Kimmel’s suggestion that they introduce themselves and shake hands and hug the people next to them. That was followed by a spontaneous chant of “Kobe."


Vanessa Bryant’s Tribute

Jimmy Kimmel introduced Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, who received a standing ovation from the crowd.

An emotional Vanessa thanked the crowd for coming, saying she’s received an outpouring of love.

“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 described him as a loving husband and devoted father with a tender heart who was “the MVP of girl dads.”

“God knew they couldn't be on this Earth without each other,” said Vanessa Bryant, who had been with Kobe since 1999. “He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I got Nati, Bibi and Coco. We're still the best team.”

Vanessa predicted that Gianna could have become “the best player in the WNBA.”

Kobe’s Last Text

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“Kobe’s last human act was heroic.”

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Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said Kobe’s last texts to him came shortly before a helicopter crash killed the NBA superstar and eight others.

Pelinka referred to the day of the crash as “when the axis of the world seemed to shift forever, for all of us.” Pelinka was also Gigi Bryant’s godfather, and the families were close.

Pelinka said Monday at a public memorial that Bryant wanted his help to secure an internship for a daughter of his friend John Altobelli, who also died in the crash.

“Kobe lived to make other people’s lives better, all the way up to his final text,” Pelinka said.

Pelinka said the NBA legend’s famous “Mamba mentality” extended to his roles as friend, father and husband.

Pelinka described how Bryant accomplished whatever he set his mind to, including learning to play Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" on piano.


Michael Jordan on His ‘Little Brother’

Tears streaming down his face, NBA legend Michael Jordan said at a public memorial that he thought of Kobe Bryant as a little brother.

Jordan joked Monday that like little brothers, the younger Bryant peppered him with questions about what to expect as his career with the Los Angeles Lakers started taking off. Jordan got laughs from the crowd at the Staples Center.

“When he died, a piece of me died,” Jordan said.

The former Chicago Bulls superstar said he received calls from Bryant at all hours, eager to talk about the game, business and family.

Jordan said Bryant was eager to become the best basketball player, and it made him want to be the best big brother he could be.

He says Bryant had “passion like you would never know.”

Big Shaq Remembers Mamba

NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal said he and his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant had a complex relationship but that they always respected each other and never took things too seriously.

O’Neal spoke at a public memorial Monday for Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others killed in a helicopter crash last month. He recalled an early conflict with Bryant, who wasn’t passing as much as O'Neal would’ve liked.

O’Neal said he told Kobe: “There’s no ‘I’ in team.” Kobe responded: “Yeah, but there’s a ‘M-E,’” followed by an expletive. The crowd roared with laughter.

The two won three NBA championships together.

O’Neal said Bryant early on told him others in the NBA were playing checkers while he was playing chess. O’Neal remembered saying, “Kobe, I don’t know how to play chess.”


Alicia Keys Pays Her Second Tribute

Alicia Keys played Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on piano alongside a small string section, and Christina Aguilera, who sang Schubert’s “Ave Maria.”

Earlier, Keys had paid tribute to Bryant while hosting the Grammys, which also took place at the Staples Centers just hours after Bryant’s death.

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Topics:  Jimmy Kimmel   Beyonce   Michael Jordan 

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