Fans gathered in front of Staples Center on the day of Bryant’s death Photo by Markowijaya • CC BY-SA 4.0
It’s been a month since Kobe Bryant passed away. The atmosphere at the Staples Center on Monday 2.24.20 was somber as the world prepared to finally say farewell to Kobe, Gigi Bryant and all the lives lost on Jan 26.
An emotional Jimmy Kimmel opened up the memorial service. “Well, you picked the wrong person to guide you through, I’m going to tell you that right now. I want to thank everyone for being here and thank you for gathering to celebrate the lives of Alyssa Altobelli, her parents John and Keri Altobelli, and Payton Chester, her mother Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, Gigi Bryant, and her father, Kobe Bryant.” said Kimmel “I don’t think any of us could have imagined this, everywhere you go, you see his face, his number, Gigi’s face, Gigi’s number.”
Jimmy Kimmel gives touching speech at Kobe Memorial:
RIP Kobe 💜 💛 pic.twitter.com/Fyx0cYKuwP
— Alejandro Guerra (@Cinephile420) February 24, 2020
In front of nearly 22,000 fans and stars, Beyoncé performed a tribute to Kobe and Gigi by singing his favorite song XO” and Halo.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) February 24, 2020
Alicia Keys performed Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” which was one of Kobe’s favorite pieces of music. He learned to play on the piano as a surprise for his wife Vanessa.
— Roc Nation (@RocNation) February 24, 2020
Kobe’s slogan was the “mamba mentality”, which meant having a consistent focus on your goals and always finding a way to get better no matter what. He embraced this as a mindset throughout his 20-year basketball career. This was clearly displayed when the now widower who lost not only her husband but one of her most precious assets one of her four daughters Gigi.
Vanessa Bryant emotionally and bravely stood in front of a sold out crowd and delivered the eulogy for her “baby girl”and her “soulmate.” She was an amazingly sweet and gentle soul. She was always thoughtful. She always kissed me good night and kissed me good morning … she knew how much her morning and evening kisses meant to me.”
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) February 24, 2020
“I couldn’t see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player. He was my sweet husband, and the beautiful father of our children.” said Vanessa Bryant. “You take care of our Gigi, and I’ve got Noni, Bebe and Coco. We’re still the best team.”
Vanessa Bryant on her late husband, Kobe Bryant: "I couldn't see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player. He was my sweet husband, and the beautiful father of our children." 💜💛 #KobeFarewell pic.twitter.com/CRA2ei6Yaj
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) February 24, 2020
WNBA Diana Taurasi gave an emotional speech remembering Kobe Bryant’s life and promises to carry on the legacy.
“On the few lucky occasions my dad would come home from work. He was a metal sheet worker in Los Angeles. He’d come home with Laker tickets. Watching Kobe play at the Great Western Forum as a rookie made this little girl believe she could be a Laker someday.”
— WSLAM (@wslam) February 24, 2020
Taurasi also spoke on how Gigi “represents the future of women’s basketball.”
"Gigi in many ways represents the future of women's basketball." Diana Taurasi recalls a special moment she shared with Kobe and Gianna Bryant https://t.co/JcGdaXe8pI #KobeFarewell pic.twitter.com/812ShlSZhM
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 24, 2020
A tearful eyed Michael Jordan spoke about Kobe and his relationship over the years. “It was a nuisance. But that nuisance turned into love over a period of time just because the admiration that they had for you as big brothers or big sisters, the questions, the wanting to know every little detail about the life they were about to embark on.”said Jordan “Now he got me…I told my wife I wasn’t gonna do this cause I didn’t wanna see another crying meme for the next three, four years. That is what Kobe Bryant does to me.”
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) February 24, 2020
Kobe’s former teammate Shaquille O’Neil shared a funny story of the day Kobe gained his respect, when the team complained about Kobe not passing the ball. “I said ‘Kobe. There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team.’’ Kobe said, ‘I know, but there’s an ‘M-E’ in that mother f—er.’ I went back and told Rick (Fox) and Big Shot Bob (Horry) just get the rebound. He’s not passing.”
— ESSENCE (@Essence) February 24, 2020
The service finished out with Christina Aguilera performing “Ave Maria” in Italian to Honor Kobe and Gianna Bryant.
Rest in perfect peace, Kobe and Gianna Bryant. 💜💛 God be with you Vanessa and your beautiful girls. pic.twitter.com/F2Xkn2Jl06
— Christina Aguilera (@xtina) February 25, 2020
I couldn’t help but to think about how the superstar’s career did not slow down. He came into the scene as a high schooler with pushback from the Lakers. He was a 18 year old kid and as I reflected on his life I remembered that Kobe and I was the same age. While our peers was trying to figure out which college to attend. Kobe had embarked on a career in the NBA. He didn’t have it easy. I couldn’t imagine having that type of responsibility. However he endured and became an icon.
From the Allstar game being a total tribute to Kobe Bryant. I couldn’t not let a chance slip away to hear from my fellow friends here in Atlanta and what they had to say about the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant.
WNBA Atlanta Dream Head Coach Nicki Collen
“Kobe Bryant is iconic, obviously you kind of grew up on Lebron or a Kobe fan. So many that was or a Kobe fan so many that was a divide. I certainly am old enough that it was the Jordan versus Bird, that it was Bird versus Magic time. You know he was so impactful not because he was such a great player but it was all about work ethics. So I think when you have Kobe its kind of the whole idea of not being outworked and not being satisfied no matter how talented he was. He found away to keep redeveloping his game. So as his athleticism decreased and he wasn’t the best athlete in the league he developed that mid post game, and always kind of adding to his game to be relevant so when he started in the league till he really finished he was always a really good player. When it comes to the WNBA, I mean when you have girls you start to understand how important opportunity is. He got to play at the highest level and I think maybe he would have been a WNBA fan anyway. I think as soon as you have a daughter who starts to love the sport and you see where it takes girls and he saw where basketball took him you know than it became more of a passion than something he supported.”
WNBA Atlanta Dream Assistant Coach Darius Taylor
“You know it was a tragic loss. Not just for Kobe, his daughter and the rest of the families loss in the tragic accident and a lot of the NBA players supported the WNBA but Kobe was a big supporter of the WNBA; bring his daughter to the games and also teaching her the game. Coaching and teaching the fundamentals of basketball and it’s really tragic. Unfortunately that we loss him and his daughter and the other players that were involved. Hopefully his legacy continues through the Mamba Academy and people stay inspired and continue to have NBA players support the league and maybe one day own teams in the league. I would love to see that grow.”
WNBA Atlanta Dream Point Guard Renee Montgomery
“He meant a lot. Somebody with Kobe’s stature represented the WNBA wearing the hoodie. His last post he had the WNBA hoodie on. Somebody like that and that magnitude getting behind the women games not just the WNBA, he had his Mamba Academy just fully behind women’s basketball and wanting the equality for. When you have someone like Kobe doing that it empowers me.”
Olrick Johnson Former NFL Player, Singer, Actor, and Song Writer
“I felt somber. There’s something about a professional athlete especially at that level. One of the pillars of the game for such a long time, and losing their lives tragically like that…This guy has already won an Emmy, won an Oscar. It was the letter he wrote about the game of basketball. Of course it was produced very well, and then a lot of people didn’t know he had been writing and producing other films already. But everything he did was on purpose. It wasn’t like he did this to make money. Yes he was a businessman. I’m going to do this to tell stories in a correct manner. He felt the correct manner for the African American experience. I’m going to tell stories that can allow the African American woman and man who dealt with such oppression in the United States. He was very well versed person. His father with all the traveling he did as a International basketball player. He lived in Italy and speaks many languages. He just had so much to give and he was determined to get it. That’s the thing. We all have a lot to give, and some of us are blessed with even more things to give that are obviously talents and gifts and gifts we have. Sometimes we are scared, and we have inhibitions. This dude had no inhibitions at all. He was going to strategically give all he had. What we thought would be for a lifetime, at least another 40-50 years. But God knows, that’s a reason obviously why he allowed this to happen. It’s kind of hard to understand when you know there’s so much positivity that he had to continue to give not only the young men that’s 5-10 years younger. The Carmelo(s), Lebron(s), and Dwayne Wade(s) who he embraced very much so by coming to the games, embraced their children, the next generation of basketball. I still feel that way. It’s hard to understand. I feel bad for his family. I definitely feel bad for his daughter who is a splitting image of him from what I understand, and had all the goals he had and basically told a lot of people he didn’t have to have a son and I got this. I’m going to take it to the next level. I’m going to be the next in line. It’s sad to see all that go away in one flame.”
Chicks Into Sports Photographer Carlita Duran
“Very sad and somber day. Actually didn’t believe it. I yelled at my friend for telling me. How dare you lie like that or joke like that. It just hit really hard because when you think of Kobe you don’t think of that his legacy ever ending. You just think of him kind of living forever. I didn’t never picture him passing at such a young age. It was hard and very tough… I live by the Mamba mentality.”
Chicks Into Sports Correspondent /WVEE-V103 Engineer Shiobhan Fraser
“So I just remember waking up from a nap and it was around 2:30. A friend of mine that loves Kobe. I bought him the Kobe jersey for his birthday. He idolized Kobe. He text me Kobe is dead. I was like you are lying, but in my head he wouldn’t lie about that because he loved Kobe so much. He said it was all over the news. Immediately I think everybody’s response was disbelief. You don’t really want to believe that someone has died. You definitely don’t want to believe it’s Kobe. He’s literally just starting this new chapter in his life. He’s doing father things, going to the WNBA games. It’s just really unbelievable. the only word I can use to describe hoe I felt. I was watching ESPN for four hours. They were doing people reactions, people were sharing memories. They did the thank you Kobe. Just a lot of Kobe highlights. You really got to sit down and see that this man really impacted basketball. He was somebody you grew up with. For me I loved Allen Iverson. They played against each other. They came out of the same class. I was a huge Allen Iverson person and Kobe was not at my absolute favorite but you always had to give him respect for his dedication, hard work and what he contributed to the game. Just undeniable talent, so right now you can still feel like we are missing a huge part of the NBA game. It hurts and it kind of almost feel like you lost your family member. Even if you didn’t know him personally or he wasn’t your favorite athlete or you didn’t play sports. Its like you lost someone really close to you.”