Feb 24, 2020
Kobe Bryant Memorial Transcript: Memorial Held for Kobe Bryant and His Daughter Gianna
A touching memorial was held for Kobe Bryant, who died on January 26 in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna. The memorial included speeches and eulogies by Michael Jordan, Jimmy Kimmel, Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s wife Vanessa, Rob Pelinka, Diana Taurasi, Geno Auriemma, Sabrina Ionescu, and more. The memorial also included performances by Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and Christina Aguilera. Read the full transcript of the memorial right here.
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Speaker 3: (30:03)
Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant and their friends, John, Keri and Alissa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan. On behalf of Vanessa and the entire Bryant family, we thank you for your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time and appreciate your love and coming to celebrate the life of these remarkable individuals. While this is a memorial event, the word celebration is very much a part of its purpose. And while we ask you to respect the solemnity of the occasion, we must not forget to celebrate the lives of Kobe, Gianna and their friends.
Speaker 3: (30:49)
There is no doubt that he would have wanted that. To begin this event, a very close friend of the Bryant family is here to show her love and support to Vanessa and all the families here today. Please welcome-
Speaker 4: (31:03)
Please welcome Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter: (31:34)
( singing) I’m here because I love Kobe, and this was one of his favorite songs. So I want to start that over, but I want us to do it all together, and I want you to sing it so loud that he’ll hear your love. Are you all ready? Love you. (singing) Thank you.
Speaker 5: (32:36)
He only might be only 18 years and five months old, but this guy can do everything that the veterans can do and do it better perhaps, Kobe Bryant.
Speaker 6: (38:48)
[inaudible 00:38:48] Kobe Bryant. (singing)
Kobe Bryant: (39:04)
If you do the work, you work hard enough dreams come true. Those times you would get up early and you work hard, those times that you stay up late and you work hard, those times when you don’t feel like working, you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself but you do it anyway, that is actually the dream. That’s the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. If you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see happen is that you won’t accomplish your dreams, your dreams won’t come true. Something greater will. (singing) You guys will always be in my heart. I sincerely, sincerely appreciate it. No words can describe how I feel about you guys. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. God, I love you guys. I love you guys. (singing) What can I say? Mamba out.
Speaker 4: (42:49)
Our thanks go out to Beyoncé for being with us today on for expressing her love so beautifully. Another good friend of the Bryant’s and the Laker family is here to help guide us through this morning celebration. Would you please welcome Jimmy Kimmel.
Jimmy Kimmel: (43:16)
Well, you, you pick 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, Payton Chester, her mother Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, Gigi Bryant, and her father, Kobe Bryant. This is a sad day but it is also a celebration of their lives and of life itself in the building where those of us who are Lakers fans and Kobe fans celebrated so many of the best times of our lives, and I’m honored to have been asked to speak here. The proceeds from the tickets you bought go directly to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports in underserved communities, and I also encourage you to go to MambaOnthree.org to give to the Mamba On Three Fund which was created to honor and provide financial support to the Chester, Altobelli, Zobayan and Mauser families.
Jimmy Kimmel: (44:51)
I can only imagine how painful this is for them. 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. Everywhere at every intersection. There are hundreds of murals painted by artists who are inspired, not because he is a basketball player but because Kobe was an artist too. And not just in L.A., across the country and Kobe’s hometown, Philadelphia, in Italy, in India, the Philippines, China, New York, Phoenix, Boston, for God’s sake. In places where you would be booed on the court, Kobe is missed. Even a great Boston Celtic, Bill Russell, wore number 24 and a Lakers jersey to yesterday’s game. I knew he would come to us eventually. Today we’re joined by Kobe’s teammates and opponents alike, his friends, his family and his fans, as we try to make sense of what happened to these nine beautiful people who were by all accounts so full of life, who left behind parents, friends, co-workers, classmates, siblings and children.
Jimmy Kimmel: (46:54)
I’ve been trying to come up with something positive to take away from this, and it was hard because there isn’t much. But the best thing I think I was able to come up with is this, gratitude. It seems to me that all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them, and for the time we have left with each other, and that’s all. In the Catholic Church, which the Bryant family is part of, at Mass we share the sign of peace. This is a moment to hug or shake hands with people around you, and it occurred to me that that is something that only seems to happen at church, and at sporting events. When perfect strangers who love the same team are suddenly hugging and high-fiving and celebrating together, and so since we are here today to celebrate, I’d like to invite you right now to take a moment to say hello to the people around you. Whether you know them or not. To be grateful for life, and for the fact that we are all here together.
Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!
Jimmy Kimmel: (49:02)
Now I’d like to introduce the person who invited us all here today on 224 because she knew we needed it and we cannot celebrate the lives of Kobe and Gigi and all the people we lost without honoring the woman that Kobe and Gigi loved most. Please welcome Vanessa Bryant.
Vanessa Bryant: (49:25)
Vanessa Bryant: (50:02)
Vanessa Bryant: (50:07)
Thank you all so much for being here.
Vanessa Bryant: (50:10)
It means so much to us.
Speaker 11: (50:11)
We love you, Vanessa.
Speaker 12: (50:16)
Speaker 13: (50:16)
We love you, Vanessa.
Speaker 11: (50:16)
We love you.
Vanessa Bryant: (50:16)
Love you too.
Speaker 11: (50:16)
We love you.
Vanessa Bryant: (50:16)
Okay. First, I’d like to thank everyone for coming today. The outpouring of love and support that my family has felt from around the world has been so uplifting. Thank you so much for all your prayers. I like to talk about both Kobe and Gigi, but I’ll start with my baby girl first. My baby girl …
Vanessa Bryant: (51:09)
Okay. Gianna Bryant is an amazingly sweet and gentle soul. She was always thoughtful, she always kissed me goodnight and kissed me good morning. There were a few occasions where I was absolutely tired from being up with Bianca and Capri, and I thought she had left a school without saying goodbye. I text and say, “No kiss?” And Gianna would reply with, “Mama, I kissed you but you were asleep and I didn’t want to wake you.” She knew how much her morning and evening kisses meant to me, and she was so thoughtful to remember to kiss me every day. She was daddy’s girl, but I know she loved her mama and she would always tell me and show me how much she loved me. She was one of my very best friends. She loved to bake, she loved putting a smile on everyone’s face.
Vanessa Bryant: (52:02)
Last August, she made a beautiful birthday cake for her daddy. It had fondant and looked like it had blue Aggie crystals. Kobe’s birthday cake looked like it was professionally decorated. She made the best chocolate chip cookies, she loved watching cooking shows and cupcake wars with me, and she loved watching Survivor and NBA games on TV with her daddy. She also loved watching Disney movies with her sisters. Gigi was very competitive like her daddy, but Gianna had a sweet grace about her. Her smile was like sunshine. Her smile took up her entire face, like mine. Kobe always said she was me. She had my fire, my personality and sarcasm. She was tender and loving on the inside. She had the best laugh. It was infectious, it was pure and genuine.
Vanessa Bryant: (53:09)
Kobe and Gianna naturally gravitated towards each other. She had Kobe’s ability to listen to a song and have all the lyrics memorized after listening to the song a couple of times. It was their secret talent. She was an incredible athlete. She was great at gymnastics, soccer, softball, dance and basketball. She was an incredible dancer too. She loved to swim, dance, do cartwheels and jumps into our swimming pool, and Gigi loved her Tik Tok dances. Gigi was confident but not in an arrogant way. She loved helping and teaching other people things. At school, she offered the boys’ basketball coaches to help give the boys’ basketball team some pointers, like the triangle offense. She was very much like her daddy and that they both liked helping people learn new things and master them.
Vanessa Bryant: (54:08)
They were great teachers. Gigi was very sweet. She always made sure everyone was okay. She was our shepherd. She always kept our family together. She loved family traditions, family movie night and game night on vacations were important to her. Gigi always looked out for everyone. She was very much in tune with our feelings and wanted the best for us. Gianna was smart, she knew how to read, speak and write Mandarin. She knew Spanish. She had great grades and kept them up all while becoming an incredible basketball player. She was president of school spirit on student council, she was director’s assistant for her school play, just like her big sister.
Vanessa Bryant: (54:55)
She was looking forward to graduating eighth grade and moving on to high school with her big sister, Natalia. I’m so happy she was given the opportunity to know that she was accepted to the same high school. She was really happy. Gianna made us all proud and she still does. Gianna never tried to conform. She was always herself. She was a nice person, a leader, a teacher, wearing a white tee, black leggings, a denim jacket, white high top converse, and a flannel tied around her waist with straight hair was her go-to style. She had so much swag and rhythm ever since she was a baby. She gave the best hugs and the best kisses. She had gorgeous soft lips like her daddy. She would hug me and hold me so tight, I could feel her love me.
Vanessa Bryant: (55:54)
I loved the way she looked up at me while hugging me. It was as if she was soaking me all in. We love each other so much. I’m missing her so much. She was so energetic, I couldn’t keep up with her energy. She lapped Natalia and I on a track ones. She was about six years old. We let her have a headstart. She still dusted us. I miss her sweet kisses, I miss her cleverness, I miss her sarcasm, her wit and that adorable, sly side smile followed with a grin and a burst of laughter. We shared the same cat that ate the canary grin. Gigi was sunshine. She brightened up my day every day. I miss looking at her beautiful face. She was always so good, a rule follower. I knew I could always count on her to do the right thing.
Vanessa Bryant: (56:56)
She was the most loving daughter, thoughtful little sister, and silly big sister. She happily helped carry the little diaper bag or played with them. She liked helping me with Bianca and Capri. Bianca loved going to the playground, swimming and jumping on the trampoline with Gigi. I used to tell Gigi that I thought Coco considered her her favorite sister. Capri would smile from ear to ear when Gigi walked into the room, and Capri reminds me a lot of Gianna. They look alike and just smile with their whole face. Pure joy. We will not be able to see Gigi go to high school with Natalia, and ask her how her day went. We didn’t get the chance to teach her how to drive a car. I won’t be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day.
Vanessa Bryant: (57:55)
I’ll never get to see my baby girl walk down the aisle, have a father-daughter dance with her daddy, dance on the dance floor with me or have babies of her own. Gianna would have been an amazing mommy. She was very maternal ever since she was really little. Gigi would have most likely become the best player in the WNBA. She would’ve made a huge difference. She would’ve made a huge difference for women’s basketball. Gigi was motivated to change the way everyone viewed women in sports. She wrote papers in school defending women and wrote about how the unequal pay difference for the NBA and WNBA leagues wasn’t fair, and I truly feel she made positive changes for the WNBA players now since they knew Gigi’s goal was to eventually play in the WNBA.
Vanessa Bryant: (59:08)
I’m still so proud of Gianna. She made a difference and was kind to everyone she met, and the 13 years she was here on earth. Her classmates shared many fond memories about Gianna with us, and those stories reminded me that Gianna loved and showed everyone that no act of kindness is ever too small to make a difference in someone’s life. She was always, always, always considered of others in their feelings. She was a beautiful, kind, happy, silly, thoughtful and loving daughter and sister. She was so full of life, and had so much more to offer this world. I cannot imagine life without her. Mommy, Natalia, Bianca, Capri, and daddy love you so much, Gigi. I will miss your sweet handmade cards, your sweet kisses, and your gorgeous smile. I miss you, all of you, every day. I love you.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:00:28)
Okay. [inaudible 01:00:29] soulmate. Kobe was known as a fierce competitor on the basketball court, the greatest of all time, a writer, an Oscar winner and the Black Mamba. But to me he was KobKob, my Boo-Boo, my Bae-Boo, my papi chulo. I was his VeBe, his Principessa, his Reina, his Queen Mamba, and his [inaudible 01:01:10] 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. He was mine. He was my everything. Kobe and I have been together since I was 17 and a half years old. I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidant, and his protector. He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. He was the early bird and I was night owl, I was fire and he was ice, and vice versa at times. We balanced each other out. He would do anything for me.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:02:03)
We balanced each other out. He would do anything for me. I have no idea how I deserved a man that loved and wanted me more than Kobe. He was charismatic, a gentleman. He was loving, adoring and romantic.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:02:18)
He was truly the romantic one in our relationship and I looked forward to Valentine’s day and our anniversaries every year. He planned special anniversary trips and a special traditional gift for every year of our marriage. He even handmade my most treasured gifts. He just thought outside the box and was so thoughtful, even while working hard to be the best athlete.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:02:43)
He gave to me the actual notebook and the blue dress, Rachel McAdams wore in The Notebook movie. When I asked him why he chose the blue dress, he said it was because it’s the scene when Allie comes back to Noah. We had hoped to grow old together like the movie. We really had an amazing love story. We loved each other with our whole beings, two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family and raising our sweet and amazing girls.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:03:18)
A couple of weeks before they passed, Kobe sent me a sweet text and mentioned how he wanted to spend time together, just the two of us without our kids because I’m his best friend first. We never got the chance to do it. We were busy taking care of our girls and just doing our regular everyday responsibilities, but I’m thankful I have that recent text. It means so much to me. Kobe wanted us to renew our vows, he wanted Natalia to take over his company and he wanted to travel the world together.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:03:58)
We had always talked about how we’d be the fun grandparents to our daughters’ children. He would have been the coolest grandpa. Kobe was the MVP of girl dads or MVD. He never left the toilet seat up. He always told the girls how beautiful and smart they are. He taught them how to be brave and how to keep pushing forward when things get tough. When Kobe retired from the MBA, he took over dropping off and picking up our girls from school since I was at home pregnant with Bianka and just recently home nursing Capri. When Kobe was still playing, I used to show up an hour early to be the first in line to pick up Natalia and Gianna from school and I told him he couldn’t drop the ball once he took over. He was late one time and we most definitely let him know that I was never late, so we showed up one hour and 20 minutes early after that. He always knew there was room for improvement and wanted to do better.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:05:12)
He happily did carpool and enjoyed spending time in the car with our girls. He was a doting father, a father that was hands on and present. He helped me bathe Bianka and Capri almost every night. He would sing them silly songs in the shower and continue making them laugh and smile as he lathered them lotion and got them ready for bed. He had magic arms and could put Capri to sleep in only a few minutes. He said he had it down to a science, eight times up and down our hallway.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:05:45)
He loved taking Bianka to Fashion Island and watch her play in the koi pond area and loved taking her to the park. Their most recent visit to the koi pond was the evening before he and Gigi passed. He shared a love of movies and the breakdown of films with Natalia. He enjoyed renting out theaters and taking Natalia to watch the newest Star Wars movie or Harry Potter film, and they would have movie marathons and he enjoyed every second of it. He loved your typical tearjerkers too. He liked watching Stepmom, Steel Magnolias and Little Women. He had a tender heart.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:06:25)
Kobe somehow knew where I was at all times, specifically when I was late to his games. He would worry about me if I wasn’t in my seat at the start of each game and would ask security where I was at the first time out of the first quarter, and my smart ass would tell him that he wasn’t going to drop 81 points within the first 10 minutes of the game. I think anyone with kids understands that sometimes we can’t make it out the door on time and eventually he was used to my tardiness and balled out. The fact that he could play on an intense professional level and still be concerned by making sure we made it to the game safely was just another example of how family came first to him.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:07:16)
He loved being Gianna’s basketball coach. He told me he wished he would’ve convinced Natalia to play basketball so that they could have spent even more time together, but he also wanted her to pursue her own passion. He watched Natalia play in a volleyball tournament on her birthday on January 19th and he noticed how she’s a very intelligent player. He was convinced she would have made a great point guard with her vision of the court. He told me that he wanted Bianka and Capri to take up basketball when they get older so he could spend just as much time with them as he did with Gigi. Kobe always told Bianka and Capri that they were going to grow up and play basketball and mix they ass up. Now they won’t have their daddy and sister here to teach them and that is truly a loss I do not understand.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:08:10)
I’m so thankful Kobe heard Coco say, “Dada.” He isn’t going to be here to drop Bianka and Capri off at Pre-K or kindergarten. He isn’t going to be here to tell me to “get a grip, V” when we have to leave the kindergarten classroom or show up to our daughter’s doctor’s visits for my own moral support. He isn’t going to be able to walk our girls down the aisle or spin me around on the dance floor while singing PYT to me.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:08:41)
But I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband and father he was, the kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes. He always liked working and doing projects to improve kids’ lives. He taught us all valuable lessons about life and sports through his NBA career, his books, his show of detail and his Punies podcast series and we’re so thankful he let those lessons and stories behind for us. He was thoughtful and wrote the best love letters and cards and Gigi had his wonderful ability to express her feelings into paper and make you feel her love through her words. She was thoughtful like him.
Vanessa Bryant: (01:09:27)
They were so easy to love. Everyone naturally gravitated towards them. They were funny, happy, silly, and they loved life. They were so full of joy and adventure. God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi, and I got [Nani 00:08:07], [Bibi 01:10:08] and Coco. We’re still the best team. We love and miss you Booboo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace and have fun in Heaven until we meet again one day. We love you both and miss you forever and always. Mommy.
Jimmy Kimmel: (01:10:33)
The speaker from whom we are about to hear was very special to the Bryant family. She’s their dear friend who is also a four time Olympic gold medalist, a three time WNBA champion, three time NCAA champion, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, and if that isn’t enough to convince you that she’s one of the best of all time, Kobe gave her the greatest honor of all. He nicknamed her after himself. Please welcome the White Mamba, Diana Taurasi.
Diana Taurasi: (01:12:00)
My name is Diana Taurasi. Thanks Jimmy, you stole my first joke. I am the White Mamba.
Diana Taurasi: (01:12:11)
I would first likely to offer my deepest condolences to all the families who lost a loved one. In 1996 I was a lanky, awkward freshman in high school, obsessively shooting night after night in my driveway. On the nights the Lakers played, I wouldn’t miss a second of the game. Every time out, every commercial, I’d run to the front yard to imitate my favorite Laker, Kobe. On a few lucky occasions, my dad would come home from work. He was a metal sheet worker in Los Angeles and 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 one day. It was like getting to know myself every single day. He made it okay to play with an edge that borderlined crazy. Early on [inaudible 01:13:19] Mamba mentality was in full effect.
Diana Taurasi: (01:13:22)
Years later when I spent time with Kobe at the 2008 Olympics, I learned firsthand that it just wasn’t limited to the basketball court. His competitive fire ran through his veins, just like many of us today. Every single workout I end the same way with the Kobe game winner, 3 hard dribbles going right, left foot plant pivot, swing right leg through, elevate, square up, follow through. Five in a row and I got to go home. It’s that exact same shot that won us a championship in Phoenix in 2014.
Diana Taurasi: (01:14:15)
Kobe’s willingness to do the hard work and make the sacrifice every single day inspired me and resonated with the city of Los Angeles. We struggled together, we grew together, we celebrated victories together.
Diana Taurasi: (01:14:34)
The same passion we all recognized in Kobe, obviously Gigi inherited. Her skill was undeniable at an early age. I mean, who has a turn away fade away jumper at 11? LeBron barely got it today. But it was her curiosity about the game that was pushing her to pick up the basketball every single day. Gigi was in the midst of the best times as a basketball player’s career, no responsibilities, no expectations, just basketball with your best friends. Every weekend was a new adventure, an opportunity to learn how to work and grow together as a unit. As a young kid, there’s nothing you look forward to more than long hot summer days in the gym with your homies. The same way Kobe inspired a generation of basketball players, Gigi [inaudible 01:15:35] Kobe’s interest in coaching and teaching the game. I’m sure I’m not the only one who received the text from Kobe asking what drills they were doing when they were 13. Gigi, in many ways, represents the future of women’s basketball. A future where a young woman aspires to play in the WNBA, the same way I wanted to be a Laker. Gigi already had goals to play for Yukon. That in itself showed her fearless mentality. She represents a time where a young girl doesn’t need permission to play. Her skill would command respect.
Diana Taurasi: (01:16:14)
The last time I saw Gigi, the Mambas were in Phoenix for a big AU tournament. Kobe brought them to the locker room to watch practice. I always remember the look on Gigi’s face. It was a look of excitement, a look of belonging, a look of fierce determination.
Diana Taurasi: (01:16:49)
As a daughter, a sister, wife and mother, we embrace Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. We promise to carry Gigi’s legacy.
Diana Taurasi: (01:17:05)
Kobe, Gigi, [foreign language 00:15:06].
Speaker 14: (01:17:24)
Just as her father was to our next speaker, our next speaker was to Gianna. Mentors know no gender or race, they just know they’re here to help others, and one of Gianna’s most impactful teachers and friends was Sabrina Ionescu. Following her appearance here this morning, she’ll fly back to the Bay Area to face Stanford, undoubtedly with thoughts of her time here ever present in her mind. Please welcome NCAA all-time leader in points, assists and three-point field goals, Sabrina Ionescu.
Sabrina Ionescu: (01:18:15)
Growing up, I only knew one way to play the game of basketball, fierce with obsessive focus. I was unapologetically competitive. I wanted to be the best. I loved the work even when it was hard, especially if it was hard. I knew I was different, that my drive was different. I grew up watching Kobe Bryant game after game, ring after ring, living his greatness without apology. I wanted to be just like him, to love every part of the competition, to be the first to show up and the last to leave, to love the grind, to be your best when you don’t feel your best and make other people around you the best version of themselves, and to wake up and do it again the next day. So that’s what I did. Wake up, grind and get better. Wake up, grind and get better.
Sabrina Ionescu: (01:19:04)
A year ago, my team, Oregon, was playing at USC. The morning of the game, our coaches told us that there was a surprise for the day. I was thinking Nike sends us some new shoes or swag or something. The game starts and shortly after Kobe walks in with his daughter, Gianna, and two of her teammates. They sat courtside while my jaw sat dropped. They watched the entire game and that was the first time I met Kobe. Kobe, Gigi and her teammates came into the locker room after the game. He congratulated us on the win that day and our season up to that point, but said, and I’ll never forget, “Don’t shoot yourselves in the foot.” He meant don’t settle, to keep grinding, control what you can. The national championship wasn’t far and goal was to win it all.
Sabrina Ionescu: (01:19:51)
I remember Gigi, excited and smiling in the locker room. I’d always watch a ton of film of her playing basketball. She had a fade away better than mine. I asked her where she wanted to play ball in college and she said Yukon. She had the will and determination to be able to play wherever she wanted and if she wanted to go there, I wanted her there as well. She and her teammates hung out with us for a while, starstruck and a little shy, but always observing. Whichever school she would come to choose, it didn’t matter. If I represented the present of the woman’s game, Gigi was the future and Kobe knew it, so we decided to build a future together.
Sabrina Ionescu: (01:20:29)
I worked out twice with Gigi over the summer. I’d gone down to help Kobe coach his team. Gigi had so much of her dad’s skillset. You could tell the amount of hours they spent in the gym practicing her moves. She smiled all the time, but when it was game time she was ready to kill. Her demeanor changed almost instantly when the whistle blew.
Sabrina Ionescu: (01:20:48)
I remember one time someone grabbed her jersey and she sort of just knocked them down and then stepped right over them. Me and Kobe looked at each other smiling and he goes, “I don’t know where she learned that from.” I laughed and said, “I do.” You can’t teach that, and definitely not at her age. Kobe was right, she had it. I loved watching how hard she worked and how much her teammates loved her, but also her own desire to be great. She always wanted to learn, to go to every game she could, college, NBA, WNBA. Kobe was helping with that because he saw it in her, just like he saw it in me.
Sabrina Ionescu: (01:21:24)
His vision for others is always bigger than what they imagined for themselves. His vision for me was way bigger than my own. More importantly, he didn’t just show up in my life and leave, he stayed. We kept in touch, always texting, calls, game visits. I’d drop, a triple-double and have a text from him, “Another triple-double, I see,” with the flex emoji. Another game, another text, “Yo, Beast Mode,” or, “Easy money.” I felt some pressure early on in the season and he wrote to me, “Be you. It’s been good enough and that will continue to be good enough.” He taught me his step back. He told me that if I could bring that to my game, it’d be over for any defender trying to guard me. He told me how high my arc needed to be on my shot, how to angle my foot, which leg to kick out, how much power to push off. “Real sharpness comes without effort,” he said. He was giving me the blueprint. He was giving Gigi the same blueprint.
Sabrina Ionescu: (01:22:22)
He united us. He made it so that the outsiders who outworked everyone else, who are driven to be just a little bit different every single day, to make those around them, behind them and above them a little bit better every single day, and they weren’t the exception, they were the rule.
Sabrina Ionescu: (01:22:39)
I wanted to be a part of the generation that changed basketball for Gigi and her teammates, where being born female didn’t mean being born behind, where greatness wasn’t divided by gender. “You have too much to give to stay silent,” that’s what he said, that’s what he believed, that’s what he lived. Through Gigi, through me, through his investment in women’s basketball, that was his next great activities, a girl dad. Basketball, in many ways, was just a metaphor.
Sabrina Ionescu: (01:23:06)
I still text them even though he’s not here. “Thank you for everything. The rest is for you. Rest easy, my guy.” The last one I sent him said, “I miss you. May you rest in peace, my dear friend.” The texts go through, but no response. It still feels like he’s there on the other end, that the next time I pick up my phone he would’ve hit me back. Sometimes I find myself still waiting. It’s so strange to describe him or Gigi in the past tense. You don’t get used to that. No one tells you that about grief. The week after the accident, I was in Colorado, I had a game and like I do before every game, I prayed. This time I was thinking about Kobe and Gigi. His voice is still in my head even if his body is not on this earth, and all I wanted was a sign that in some way he still heard me too. I looked off into the sky and there it was, a beautiful golden sunset, the boldest yellow, Lakers yellow, and further in the distance a helicopter. There was my sign that he will forever be with me.
Sabrina Ionescu: (01:24:10)
I heard his voice in my head, the last line from one of his books, “Walk until the darkness is a memory and you become the sun on the next traveler’s horizon.” Today may feel like darkness, he was, in so many ways, a sun beaming, radiating, fixed in the sky. I ask each of you, every girl dad, every human here with a voice, a platform and a heart, to not let his sun set. Shine for us, for our sport where he once did. Invest in us with the same passion and drive and respect and love as he did his own daughter. In the end, she was a sun just starting to rise and God, did she glow. May their light forever shine. Kobe and Gigi, I’ll love you forever. Thank you.
Speaker 14: (01:25:07)
Among the many dreams that the lovely Gianna would have realized in her life was that of playing for one of the greatest women’s collegiate basketball teams in history, the Huskies of Yukon. One of the highlights of her and her father’s lives was a visit they made to the campus in March, 2019. Here today to speak on his friendship with both of them is the 11-time and NCAA championship coach of the Huskies, Gino Auriemma.
Gino Auriemma: (01:25:33)
There’s some amazing women in this room aren’t there? And you just heard from three of them. I’m Gino Auriemma and I’m the coach of the Yukon women’s basketball program. A lot of people are going to talk about basketball today and I don’t know that that’s why I’m here. I’m not here for the basketball part. I tried to write a long flowing speech about basketball and I can’t do it. There’s too many thoughts in my head ever since Vanessa asked me to speak, too many things that made me realize more that I’m here as a father, not as a basketball coach. And us Italians, as [inaudible 01:27:05] just showed you, we’re very, very emotional people, right Mike? [inaudible 01:27:14] half a tank.
Gino Auriemma: (01:27:20)
The thoughts that I started to have after I was asked to speak were obviously about all the people that were on board. If you’re a father, a grandfather, you feel a different kind of emotion when there’s children involved because this is always about the children. We’ve lived our lives, we have a little bit left, they’re just starting their lives. And then my next thought came to the original team that Kobe was responsible for, Natalia, Bianka, Capri, Vanessa, because we’re always teammates, you know? We’re always on a team. Sometimes it’s a big team, sometimes it’s a small team, and that’s the most important team. Kobe and I shared some history. He started in Italy, went to Philadelphia, and then went to the limelight and the lights and glamour of LA. I went in Philadelphia, I went to Philly and went to the cows up in Storrs. That was a joke because there’s no lights and there’s no glitz and glamor in Storrs, Connecticut. How ironic that he would talk to me about coaching, the uncoachable one wants to talk about coaching. Probably the most uncoachable player in the NBA during his career wants to know about coaching. I wanted to know why. He said, “I’m coaching my daughter’s team.” I said, “Oh my God, that poor kid.” When I watched highlights of her playing and on about the third or fourth time she touched the ball, Gianna passed it when she was open. I thought, “She’s not listening to her father.”
Gino Auriemma: (01:29:54)
He would call and say, “What kind of defensive drills should I do? We have practice tonight, we’re going to work on defense. What do you think’s the most important thing in teaching man-to-man?” Further proof he never listened to one word any of his coaches told him. I tried to explain to him, I say, “Kobe, they’re 13 years old. I think you ought to just say, ‘Hey, see the kid with the ball? Try not to let her go by you,’ and, ‘See, if you’re guarding the other guys, hey see the kid with the ball over there? Don’t let her throw the ball to your guy.’ Keep it kind of simple, you know?” He said, “No, I want to know, like what are the rotations when they drive?” I said, “Come on, come on, come on.” These are the conversations that we have both as basketball people and as dads who have ever coached their kids, if you’ve ever been in that situation, like a lot of people here in this room probably have been.
Gino Auriemma: (01:30:50)
I remember when Gigi came, as you saw in that video, she came to the very first game that she came to, and she came into the locker room and here she is and the look on her face, the smile, the way her eyes just took everything in, how excited she was to be around, in her mind, royalty. It’s ironic. Her father’s royalty and she’s excited to be around royalty that looks just like what she wants to be. The most impressive thing about that point in time was how Kobe stepped as far back as he could so anyone taking pictures, anyone there would not know that this was Kobe Bryant’s daughter. This was her moment. This was her time to shine. This was her time to experience all the things that he’s experienced his whole life. He was being Dad, he wasn’t being Kobe Bryant, and he was allowing Gigi to be Gigi, not Kobe Bryant’s daughter. In today’s day and age, that’s a hell of a thing for parents to be able to do.
Gino Auriemma: (01:32:17)
I’ll leave you with just two things. We got a letter-
Gino Auriemma: (01:32:21)
Oh, I got to tell you about, you didn’t see it, but she did meet the Oregon Ducks women’s basketball team, and they all gathered around and said, “You want to take a picture?” Everybody ran over and Gigi goes, “Nah, I’m good.” She knew where her heart was and you know that little sarcasm, “I’m good.”
Gino Auriemma: (01:32:51)
When they came to Yukon and they sat behind the bench, and there’s Dad bringing his daughter to a game, and they have their shirts on and she’s got this coat on and she has her hat on and-
Gino Auriemma: (01:33:03)
… shirts on, and she’s got this coat on and she has her hat on, and she’s just a little kid at a game. Again, I felt more like a dad than I felt as a basketball coach because I’ve done that with my kids.
Gino Auriemma: (01:33:16)
Lastly, Number 24, Number Eight, and Number Two. Those are basketball numbers. Those are numbers in the past. Those are numbers that we’re not going to get back. What we do have is today, how many numbers of kids like Diana have been inspired to do more, to work harder, to strive for more? The numbers we also don’t have is how many numbers of kids in the future, how many women, are going to be inspired by Gigi’s life? How many fathers are inspired by Kobe to be fathers, to really be fathers, the way a father is supposed to be? In this room, there is an incredible amount of talent. In this room is maybe the greatest collection of talent that I’ve ever been around. But in this room, there’s a family. There’s still a team back home, and they still have a great coach. I’m going to be rooting for that team from here on in. Thank you very much.
Jimmy Kimmel: (01:35:19)
Thank you, Coach. Now I want to play for a UConn women’s basketball team.
Jimmy Kimmel: (01:35:27)
Our next speaker is the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. Before that, he was Kobe’s agent, and most notably for our purposes today, he is one of Kobe’s closest and best friends, and godfather to Gigi. Please welcome Rob Pelinka.
Rob Pelinka: (01:36:05)
The world knows Kobe as a basketball legend, but I’ve been blessed for 20 years to know him as so much more. The Kobe I know had three unique sides that I hope to quickly honor today, Kobe the best friend, Kobe the dad, and Kobe the husband.
Rob Pelinka: (01:36:24)
I will start with Kobe the best friend. Do you remember where you were on that foggy, sunless morning of January 26th when the axis of the world seemed to shift forever for all of us? I was in Sunday church with my family. My phone was deep in the pocket of my jeans when I felt the familiar text buzz.
Rob Pelinka: (01:36:48)
For a second, I ignored the notification because I was in church, but for some reason, with this text, I felt a sudden urge to check my phone. I slipped it out of my jeans and discovered the text was from Kobe. There was nothing uncharacteristic or unfamiliar about this. For the last two decades, Kobe and I talked or texted every single day, because that’s what best friends do.
Rob Pelinka: (01:37:12)
In that moment, my instincts were to put the phone down and get back to the preacher’s sermon, but a gentle otherworldly nudge compelled me to open the text, so I did. I quickly saw that Kobe was asking me if I happened to know a certain baseball agent based in Southern California. Since Kobe’s question didn’t have any urgency to it, I decided I’d wait until after church to respond, but then again, there was a gentle nudge. I grabbed my phone and texted Kobe back that I had seen the baseball agent at a Lakers game just the other night and was happy to help him with whatever he wanted.
Rob Pelinka: (01:37:47)
It was now just past 9:30. Kobe texts back, explaining his desire to help a friend of his secure a baseball agency internship for one of his young daughters. Kobe vouched for the girl’s character, intellect, and work ethic. He clearly wanted to champion a bright future for her. I texted Kobe right back and said I would put a plan in motion to help him get that done. A handful of minutes later, Kobe and Gianna and seven other beautiful souls ascended into heaven. Kobe had been texting me from the helicopter.
Rob Pelinka: (01:38:33)
The girl in that text chain that he was wanting to help so badly was Lexi Altobelli, the surviving daughter of coach John Altobelli, who was also on the helicopter. Kobe’s last human act was heroic. He wanted to use his platform to bless and shape a young girl’s future.
Rob Pelinka: (01:38:58)
Hasn’t Kobe done that for all of us? Kobe was literally the best friend anyone could ask for. He always championed and passionately celebrated the accomplishments of others and downplayed his own. The man who had won multiple NBA titles, MVPs, and an Oscar would buzz with excitement when someone he loved would reach even a simple goal. With any achievement, Kobe was always the first to call. This was one of his greatest gifts as a friend and something I will forever miss.
Rob Pelinka: (01:39:32)
There’s one story that shows this beautiful side to Kobe. As Vanessa shared, in the years following his retirement, Kobe was often one of the first carpools to pick up his daughters from school. With Kobe in pole position, my kids, who attended the same school, also got to see him often. Every time they would see him, he would greet them with an enthusiasm if they had just won student of the year.
Rob Pelinka: (01:39:58)
The other day, my nine-year-old daughter, Emery, had big tears in her eyes because she was so badly missing Uncle Kobe and Gigi. When I asked her why, she said, “Daddy, whenever Kobe would see me, he would run to me and scoop me up in his giant arms and raise me high above his head. Kobe always made me feel like I was queen of the world.”
Rob Pelinka: (01:40:20)
Kobe had a depth of care for people that is unparalleled. He made every moment magical, as if it was living a fantasy novel. This was the case when my family and the Bryants went on a camping, or I should say glamping, trip to Montana. We canoed and rode horses, went fly fishing and river rafting, and rode on a stagecoach to a campfire dinner under the stars. At each turn, Kobe made everything an adventure, especially for the kids.
Rob Pelinka: (01:40:49)
Of course, with all the wilderness activities we did, they had to be done to the nth degree. If it was fly fishing, we had to learn to tie our own flies and fish standing in the stream with heavy wader boots on, no shortcuts. Kobe’s enthusiasm and joy for all things life made that trip one for a lifetime.
Rob Pelinka: (01:41:09)
Another remarkable friendship quality of Kobe’s is that he mastered the art of making the things his friends loved things that he loved. When I got the Lakers GM job, Kobe would often say that my life and his life had flip-flopped. Instead of him, I was now the one with the regimented Lakers schedule of practices, games, and road trips. I was now the one daily commuting up the 405 from the OC to LA. On the flip side, Kobe was home chilling in Newport Beach, doing all his Kobe Inc. work from his favorite spot in the world.
Rob Pelinka: (01:41:46)
Having lived the demands of the NBA for 20 years, Kobe understood the toll it would take on my family time, so he and Vanessa would regularly check in with my wife and kids to make sure everything was good, and even celebrate holidays like Halloween with them. That’s what friends do. Kobe lived to make other people’s lives better all the way up until his final text.
Rob Pelinka: (01:42:12)
The day after Kobe was gone, I was at home and feeling totally lost. I couldn’t imagine life without the strength and guidance of my best friend. As part of my grieving, I felt an overwhelming need to connect with something tangible that represented our friendship, a picture, a voicemail, something that Kobe left behind. My wife reminded me of the Wizenard book Kobe authored and had recently given to me. I went upstairs and found the book in my library and opened it. On the inside cover, he had panned in with his own pen these words, “To RP, my brother, may you always remember to enjoy the road, especially when it’s a hard one. Love, Kobe.” Kobe wrote these words to me just a few months ago. Now I realize that perhaps they were meant for us all. Kobe, my brother, this road is so, so hard, and I don’t know how to journey on without you. But I know you want us to keep going, and our memories with you will give us strength to somehow move forward. As you wrote, even in the valley of unimaginable loss, we will somehow find a way to have joy.
Rob Pelinka: (01:43:38)
On to Kobe’s next side, Kobe the dad. When Kobe retired from playing basketball, people would often ask me how I thought he would fuel his competitive drive. The answers came in a couple surprising ways. The first was in a new sport, tennis. Right after Kobe stopped playing for the Lakers, we took up playing tennis at a local private club in Newport Beach. We began having epic one-on-one battles. I picked the game up faster than him, so early on he would often fall behind. That did not sit well with Kobe at all, so what does the Black Mamba do?
Rob Pelinka: (01:44:12)
The next few times I arrived at the club, there he was waiting for me already with a full sweat. As his tennis skills exploded, I learned that he had secretly reached out to the club’s pro for private lessons and didn’t share any of it with me. Typical Mamba mentality.
Rob Pelinka: (01:44:29)
We loved our matches and stories and memories we would share on those beautiful California days. It was during one of those tennis conversations that the other newfound competitive love of his became so clear, coaching Gianna’s youth basketball team. Kobe talked constantly about his dream to create the best youth girls basketball team on the planet, and he did. It started with his individual work with Gigi and quickly spread to all the girls on Team Mamba. Long practices every night, precision in everything, the individual drills, the set plays, the triangle cuts, the defensive schemes, it was all Kobe’s masterpiece.
Rob Pelinka: (01:45:08)
I will never forget when Kobe challenged my 12-year-old son’s all-star team to a game against his Mamba team. Yes, girls versus boys. Kobe hosted the game at a local high school gym with refs, timekeepers, and all. He coached from the bench, but rarely said anything. Instead, the Mambas were so well-prepared they functioned like a Swiss watch. Everything seemed scripted and versed. Our boys got smashed. Kobe and Gigi took it all in stride. That’s what the Mambas do. Kobe’s love for coaching grew and grew and grew.
Rob Pelinka: (01:45:44)
I remember when Kobe turned 40, to celebrate, our families flew to Cabo to spend a long weekend at one of the most beautiful ocean estates in the world. What was the one thing Kobe wanted to do in this heavenly setting? Watch Team Mamba game film with Gigi and me, of course, breaking down every play.
Rob Pelinka: (01:46:03)
Kobe’s love and passion for this team was the perfect representation of how deeply he loved his daughters. At the center of all this was his precious Gigi, who my wife and I are blessed to be the godparents of. From the moment Kristin and I dressed Gigi in her pure white lace baptismal dress as an infant, she kicked and wiggled her way into our world like only a Taurus can.
Rob Pelinka: (01:46:27)
Gigi was an incredible combination of strength, courage, grace, and dignity with a witty sense of humor that was simply captivating. She smiled with her glittering eyes and was literally everything in the world that is good. In our home, Gianna and her sister Natalia have become the gold standard for character and kindness. Gigi was love and grace, and like her dad, her life was about blessing others. Simply put, Gigi was Kobe’s pride and joy on the basketball court, and you could see it with every move she made.
Rob Pelinka: (01:47:01)
If basketball was the love Kobe shared with Gigi, with Nani, Kobe shared a love for storytelling. The two of them seemed to live out scenes of the most beautiful movie ever made. Kobe and Nani had a common language built upon joy and inspiration. They could remember and recite movie lines and sing Disney songs, always filling a room with smiles and laughter. Kobe and Nani created their own soundtrack for life, it seemed, and in it you could often find them dancing their days away together.
Rob Pelinka: (01:47:35)
Around young children, Kobe was like Santa Claus dressed in everyday clothes. Kobe had an unmatched energy to ignite kids and make them smile and laugh and love. In my years as his agent, I was told he was one of the most-granted Make-A-Wish celebrities of our generation. When Kobe met a Make-A-Wish kid, it was as if heaven came down to the real world.
Rob Pelinka: (01:47:56)
This exuberant sense of play captured the way Kobe would love and father his daughter B.B. Like Kobe, B.B. is a child of wonderment. Every moment, B.B. seems born out of joy and excitement and awe, and Kobe had an ability to enter into that world with her. Kobe also had an energy level that would match B.B.’s. When the two of them would play, I imagined a world coming alive where toy animals would dance, teacups would sing, and rainbows would shine. I had never seen anything like the two of them playing together. If you think Kobe’s hands were good with a basketball, you should see how his hands were with his daughter Koko. He literally had the golden touch. Watching him cuddle and put Koko to sleep and caress her made you realize just how tender Kobe was. He is literally the baby whisperer, and in his arms is where you would find Koko, always content with peace.
Rob Pelinka: (01:48:51)
Kobe would never miss a detail of his daughters’ lives. When he traveled with me for work, he would spend hours on the phone connecting and listening to the stories of their days. He just loved his girls, and there was nothing in the world that meant more to him.
Rob Pelinka: (01:49:05)
I remember being in the tunnel with Kobe right over there the last time he would wear his purple and gold. Kobe fist-bumped each of his daughters before he ran out the tunnel, and in Mamba-speak, said something like, “Here’s what you do when the world tells you you can’t do it anymore.” Kobe’s 60 points and win that night is only outshined by his love for his family as the world’s greatest girl dad.
Rob Pelinka: (01:49:35)
Kobe’s final side, the husband. When God made Kobe, the next great act of His was to fashion Vanessa. I know this because they are matched perfectly together, and I’ve had a front-row seat to being witness to their love for 20 years. I remember all the way back to their wedding day in 2001. In typical Kobe fashion, he wanted to master every detail of that day to reflect his love for Vanessa. One of the things he was most excited about was carrying Vanessa in his arms over the threshold of their home as a husband and wife for the first time.
Rob Pelinka: (01:50:10)
Vanessa brought out Kobe’s romantic side like nobody else in the world could. He loved to celebrate holidays with her, her birthday, anniversary, and especially Valentine’s Day. Often, he would call me to brainstorm his incredible ideas for special gifts and romantic occasions with her. He even loved to write poems and letters to her and make them into beautiful keepsake books. Simply put, Kobe’s love for Vanessa was the energy for his life.
Rob Pelinka: (01:50:36)
One particular story captures the depth of Kobe’s love for Vanessa. There was a stretch of days when work travel was causing Kobe to be away from Vanessa for longer than he wanted. He called me to explain how hard this stretch was for him. One night on the phone, Kobe noticed there was a grand piano in the hotel suite he was staying in. He sat by a tall window under the moonlit sky. During one of our calls, he shared an idea with me. He said he hadn’t been sleeping much at night because he was missing V and the girls so much. While he was away, he wanted to live in his love for Vanessa, so at night, under the moonlit sky, he vowed to teach himself by ear to play the first movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. When he told me this, I thought, “There’s no way.” I knew he wasn’t a trained musician, and that was a really difficult piece of music to play.
Rob Pelinka: (01:51:37)
But Kobe’s passion and love for Vanessa, combined with the patience and focus that only the Black Mamba has, made this seemingly impossible goal a reality. That next morning, Kobe called and played me the first few measures. The next morning, more. By the end of the week, he had the entire piece mastered, and he played it for me over the phone without a mistake. In my heart, I knew that moment was one of Kobe’s grandest feats for his deepest love. Kobe had mastered one of the greatest piano movements ever written as a symbol of one of the most beautiful loves the world has ever seen.
Rob Pelinka: (01:52:15)
To close, I will say this. Just as the sun lights the moon to guide us through the night, Kobe and Gigi will continue to shine light in all of us, but unlike the sun, Kobe and Gigi’s fuel will never, ever burn out because their light is eternal. Yes, the axis of our world shifted that frightful morning a few weeks back, but with Kobe and Gigi’s moonlight, we will never have to live in the darkness of night again. We will all journey on until one day we will be in heaven together again, and this time it will be forever.
Rob Pelinka: (01:52:56)
I love you, dear Kobe and precious Gigi. We love you, Vanessa, Nani, B.B., Koko, and we are here for you with great care until the end of our days.
Rob Pelinka: (01:53:20)
Ladies and gentlemen, in a moment, here to play tribute with her own version of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Miss Alicia Keys.
Rob Pelinka: (01:53:28)
Speaker 15: (01:55:28)
It was Grammy Sunday when we all learned about the tragic loss of Kobe, Gianna, and their group. Here at Staples, we were all preparing for the Grammy Awards, and so was our host, Alicia Keys. As the sad news settled in, it became clear that as the world began to mourn them, here at the House that Kobe Built, we had to do more than that. Thanks to the inner strength of Alicia Keys, she became a messenger of comfort to the people gathered here on that evening, as well as to the rest of the world. She’s here tonight to perform one of Kobe and Vanessa’s favorite musical numbers, the immortal Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. Please welcome Alicia Keys.
(Alicia Keys plays piano)
Speaker 39: (02:02:29)
Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, Kobe!
Jimmy Kimmel: (02:02:53)
I have to believe that Kobe right now is looking down from heaven and going, ” I am determined to learn to play Moonlight Sonata better than Alicia Keys.” Poor Chick Hearn is sitting there listening to it all.
Jimmy Kimmel: (02:03:15)
In 1996, our next speaker faced an 18-year-old Kobe Bryant on the court for the first time. Midway through the game, while playing, Kobe asked him for tips on his jump shot. Kobe scored 33 points that game against his boyhood idol. Michael scored 36 and won the game, too. Please welcome Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan: (02:04:09)
I would say, “Good morning,” but it’s afternoon. I’m grateful to Vanessa and the Bryant family for the opportunity to speak today. I’m grateful to be here to honor Gigi and celebrate the gift that Kobe gave us all. What he accomplished as a basketball player, as a businessman and a storyteller and as a father.
Michael Jordan: (02:04:45)
In the game of basketball, in life as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank. He left it all on the floor. Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends, but we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother.
Michael Jordan: (02:05:23)
Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe. All of us have brothers, sisters, little brothers, little sisters who, for whatever reason, always tend to get in your stuff. Your closet, your shoes, everything. It was a nuisance, if I can say that word. 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.
Michael Jordan: (02:06:13)
The questions, their wanting to know every little detail about life that they were about to embark on. He used to call me, text me 11:30, 2:30, 3:00 in the morning talking about post up moves, footwork, and sometimes the triangle. At first, it was an aggravation but then it turned into a certain passion.
Michael Jordan: (02:06:55)
This kid had passion like you would never know. It’s amazing thing about passion. If you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you would go to the extreme to try to understand or try to get it. Either ice cream, Cokes, hamburgers, whatever you have a love for. If you have to walk, you would go get it. If you have to beg someone, you would go get it. What Kobe Bryant was to me was the inspiration that someone truly cared about the way either I played the game or the way that he wanted to play the game. He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be.
Michael Jordan: (02:07:47)
And as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be. To do that, you have to put up with the aggravation, the late night calls or the dumb questions. I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant that he was just trying to be a better person, a better basketball player. We talked about business, we talked about family, we talked about everything. And he was just trying to be a better person.
Michael Jordan: (02:08:52)
Now he’s got me, I’ll have to look at another crying meme for the next… I told my wife I wasn’t going to do this because I didn’t want to see that for the next three or four years. That is what Kobe Bryant does to me. I’m pretty sure Vanessa and his friends all can say the same thing. He knows how to get to you in a way that affects you personally. Even if he’s being a pain in the ass, you always had a sense of love for him and the way that he can bring out the best in you. And he did that for me.
Michael Jordan: (02:09:49)
I remember maybe a couple of months ago, he sends me a text and he’s saying, “I’m trying to teach my daughter some moves and I don’t know what I was thinking or what I was working on. But what were you thinking about as you were growing up trying to work on your moves?” I said, “What age?” He says, “12.” I said, “12, I was trying to play baseball.” He sends me a text back saying, “Laughing my ass off.” And this was at 2:00 in the morning.
Michael Jordan: (02:10:41)
But the thing about him was we could talk about anything that related to basketball, but we can talk about anything that related to life. And we, as we grew up in life, rarely have friends that we can have conversations like that. Well, it’s even rarer when you can grow up against adversaries and have conversations like that.
Michael Jordan: (02:11:08)
I went and saw Phil Jackson in 1999 or maybe 2000, I don’t know. When Phil was here in LA and I walk in and Kobe’s sitting there. And I’m in a suit, the first thing Kobe said, “Did you bring your shoes?” No, I wasn’t thinking about playing. But his attitude to compete and play against someone he felt like he could enhance and improve his game with. Jimmy, that’s what I loved about the kid. Absolutely loved about the kid.
Michael Jordan: (02:11:46)
No matter where he saw me, it was a challenge and I admired him because his passion, you rarely see someone who’s looking and trying to improve each and every day. And not just in sports, but as a parent, as a husband, I am inspired by what he’s done and what he shared with Vanessa and what he’s shared with his kids.
Michael Jordan: (02:12:13)
I have a daughter who is 30, I just became a grandparent and I have two twins. I have twins at six. I can’t wait to get home to become a girl dad and to hug them and to see the love and the smiles that they bring to us as parents. He taught me that just by looking at this tonight, looking at how he responded and reacted with the people that he actually loved. These are the things that we will continue to learn from Kobe Bryant.
Michael Jordan: (02:12:52)
To Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, Capri, my wife and I will keep you close in our hearts and our prayers. We will always be here for you, always. I also want to offer our condolences and support to all the families affected by this enormous tragedy.
Michael Jordan: (02:13:14)
Kobe gave every last ounce of himself to whatever he was doing after basketball, he showed a creative side to himself that I didn’t think any of us knew he had. In retirement, he seemed so happy. He found new passions and he continued to give back as a coach in his community.
Michael Jordan: (02:13:44)
More importantly, he was an amazing dad, amazing husband who dedicated himself to his family and who loved his daughters with all his heart. Kobe never left anything on the court and I think that’s what he would want for us to do.
Michael Jordan: (02:14:09)
No one knows how much time we have. That’s why we must live in the moment. We must enjoy the moment. We must reach and see and spend as much time as we can with our families and friends and the people that we absolutely love. To live in the moment means to enjoy each and every one that we come in contact with.
Michael Jordan: (02:14:37)
When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died. And as I look in this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died, or else you wouldn’t be here. Those are the memories that we have to live with and we learn from. I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories of knowing [inaudible 02:15:01] little brother that I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace, little brother.
Jimmy Kimmel: (02:15:36)
There have been many great [inaudible 02:15:38] in the history of the NBA, but none better or more fun to follow than Kobe and Shaq. They won [inaudible 02:15:48] titles in a row together. [inaudible 02:15:49] teammates for the city of Los Angeles and their names will be linked for all time. Please welcome Shaquille O’Neal.
Shaquille O’Neal: (02:15:59)
Speaking to a group of people about Kobe Bryant- (silence).
Shaquille O’Neal: (02:17:58)
…Forever. (Silence). Capri, and a loving son and brother. Kobe was a loyal friend and a true Renaissance man. As many of you know, Kobe and I had a very complex relationship throughout the years. But not unlike another leadership duo, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, whose creative rivalry led to some of the greatest music of all time. Kobe and I pushed one another to play some of the greatest basketball of all time and I am proud that no other team has accomplished what the three-peat Lakers have done since the Shaq and the Kobe Lakers did it.
Shaquille O’Neal: (02:18:40)
And yeah, sometimes like immature kids we argued, we fought, we bantered or insulted each other with offhand remarks, our feuds. But make no mistake, even when folks thought we were on bad terms, when the cameras were turned off he and I would throw a wink at each other and say, “Let’s go whoop some ass.” He never took it seriously. In truth, Kobe and I always maintained a deep respect and a love for one another.
Shaquille O’Neal: (02:19:09)
The day Kobe gained my respect was the guys were complaining. Said, “Shaq, Kobe’s not passing the ball.” I said, “I’ll talk to him.” I said, “Kobe, there’s no I in team.” And Kobe said, “I know, but there’s a ‘M-E’ in that motherfucker.” So I went back and told Rick and Big [Shababa 02:19:41] said, “Just get the rebound, he’s not passing.”
Shaquille O’Neal: (02:19:46)
Mamba, you were taken away from us way too soon. Your next chapter of life was just beginning. But now it’s time for us to continue your legacy. You said yourself that everything negative, pressure, challenges is all the opportunity for me to rise. So we now take that sage advice and now rise from anguish and begin with the healing. Just know that we’ve got your back, little brother. I’ll look after things down here. I’ll be sure to teach Natalia, Bianka, and baby Capri all your moves, and I promise I will not teach them my free throw techniques.
Shaquille O’Neal: (02:20:22)
But for now, I take comfort in the fact as we speak, Kobe and Gigi are holding hands, walking to the nearest basketball court. Kobe will show him some new Mamba moves today and Gigi soon masters them. Kobe, you’re heaven’s MVP. I love you my man. Until we meet again. Rest in peace, brother.
Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!
Kobe Bryant: (02:20:40)
Thank you so much for tonight. But it’s not about my jerseys that are hanging up there for me. It’s about the jerseys that were hanging up there before. And without them, I couldn’t be here today. They inspired me to play the game at a high level. And it’s also about the next generation embodying the spirit that exists in those jerseys up there and carrying this organization forward so that the next 20 years are better than the past 20 years. And that’s what it’s about. And then it’s also about the fans.
Kobe Bryant: (02:21:40)
And it’s about family. It’s about my wife, Vanessa. You guys don’t know this, but my last game that we had here against the Utah Jazz, I was really tired. I got home and I was like, “You know what? I don’t know if I can do this thing. I got one more game left, but I don’t have any legs.” And she said, “I want to show you something. I got a gift for you for your last game.” And she proceeded to show me a row of retired jerseys from Baylor, from Magic, from Shaq, from [Cap 00:02:22:23]. All with personal messages signed to me. Including from Michael Jordan, included from the great Bill Russell, including from the great Larry Bird. And when I saw that, I knew then that I had to turn it up. I had to turn it up. So thank you baby for being an inspiration to me.
Kobe Bryant: (02:22:43)
And lastly, our daughters Natalia, Gianna and Bianka. I hope that tonight is not… You guys know that if you do the work, you work hard enough, dreams come true. Thank you guys so much. I love you, and Mamba out.
Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!
Jimmy Kimmel: (02:24:12)
Gentlemen, please welcome six-time Grammy winner Christina Aguilera.
Christina Aguilera: (02:24:17)
Jimmy Kimmel: (02:24:17)
Christina Aguilera: (02:24:17)
Thank you. Thank you so much.
Jimmy Kimmel: (02:27:30)
Thank you, Christina. That was beautiful. And in Italian as well. Thank you.
Christina Aguilera: (02:27:36)
Thank you so much.
Jimmy Kimmel: (02:27:38)
Thank you. Kobe, as you know, had big plans after basketball. He had many interests. One of them was film. One of them was the Mamba & Mambacita Foundation. He published books, but he wanted to make movies. [inaudible 02:28:02] movie and of course because he is Kobe Bryant, the first movie he made won an Oscar. And this is Kobe’s Academy Award winning film called Dear Basketball.
Speaker 40: (02:28:17)
A one-point game. Bryant for the win!
Kobe Bryant: (02:28:56)
Dear basketball, from the moment I started rolling my dad’s tube socks and shooting imaginary game-winning shots in the Great Western Forum, I knew one thing was real: I fell in love with you. A love so deep I gave you my all. From my mind and body to my spirit and soul. As a six-year-old boy deeply in love with you-
Speaker 40: (02:29:33)
Kobe Bryant: (02:29:38)
…I never saw the end of the tunnel. I only saw myself running out of one. And so I ran. I ran up and down every court after every loose ball for you. You asked for my hustle, I gave you my heart. Because it came with so much more.
Kobe Bryant: (02:30:08)
I played through the sweat and the hurt. Not because challenge called me but because you called me. I did everything for you. Because that’s what you do when someone makes you feel as alive as you’ve made me feel. You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream. And I’ll always love you for it. But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer. This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye. And that’s okay. I’m ready to let you go.
Kobe Bryant: (02:31:04)
I want you to know now so we both can savor every moment we have left together. The good and the bad. We have given each other all that we have. And we both know, no matter what I do next, I’ll always be that kit with the rolled up socks, garbage can in the corner. :05 seconds on the clock, ball in my hands. Five, four, three, two, one. Love you always, Kobe.
Jimmy Kimmel: (02:32:28)
Well, there you have it. Thank you, Vanessa. We love you. We love your kids. We will pray for you and for the Chester, Altobelli, Zobayan and Mauser families. Please support the MambaOnThree Fund. Please support the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. It’s what Kobe and Gigi would’ve wanted. Thank you for coming and don’t forget, work hard and hug the people you love. Good afternoon everyone.
Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!