• Thomas Parker

Kobe Bryant remembered, celebrated at Staples Center

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

On Monday, February 24, Kobe Bryant was remembered and celebrated at an emotional public ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Family, former teammates, and other NBA legends spoke for Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash last month.

Vanessa Bryant spoke through tears as she remembered her late husband and her 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. "Gigi was sunshine," Vanessa Bryant said, using her daughter's nickname. "She brightened up my day every day."

"Family came first to him," she said of Kobe, explaining that he loved being Gianna's mentor on the basketball court. "They were funny, happy, silly and they loved life," she said, adding: "God knew they couldn't be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together."

Michael Jordan also spoke past tears, remembering Kobe as a "little brother" and fondly recounted their interactions.

"At first, it was an aggravation, but then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know. ... He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be, and as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be," Jordan said.

Jordan also joked that he'd now have to endure another several years of a new "crying Jordan" internet meme after his speech.

"When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died, and as I look at this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died," he said. "I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace, little brother."

Vanessa Bryant has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of the helicopter, saying that the pilot was negligent by flying in cloudy conditions. Island Express Inc. failed to supervise and train the pilot, according to the lawsuit. The suit also alleges that it failed to install an alarm system that would have warned the pilot if terrain was too close, which the NTSB has recommended to be installed in all helicopters like the one that crashed.

The NTSB has not yet determined the cause of the crash, and a final report is not expected for some time, but previously ruled out mechanical failure.

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