All of the Moving Photos from Kobe Bryant & Gianna's Emotional Memorial Service in L.A. Today
Fans lined up early Monday to get into the Staples Center in L.A. to attend the public memorial for former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 along with seven others.
Attendees took their seats before paying their respects to Bryant, his daughter and the seven other victims: Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli and pilot Ara Zobayan.
A photo of Gianna and Kobe was displayed inside the arena as people continued to enter.
Beyoncé took the stage to kick off the service, wearing a yellow suit in honor of the Lakers.
The singer started to perform her hit “XO,” before stopping to tell the crowd, “I’m here because I love Kobe and this was one of his favorite songs.”
She then explained she was going to restart the song from the beginning, and asked the crowd to sing along.
After concluding the track, Beyoncé launched into “Halo.”
The singer previously honored Kobe on Instagram, writing simply, “You are deeply missed beloved Kobe.”
“Thank you for gathering to celebrate,” Kimmel began. He noted that the event was “a celebration of their lives, and of life itself in the building where those of us who are Lakers fans and Kobe fans [gathered].”
Choking up, Kimmel said, “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 — not because he’s a basketball player, but because Kobe was an artist too,” recounted Kimmel. “And not just in L.A., but across the country.”
Kimmel noted that Kobe and Gianna “were, by all accounts, so full of life.”
“I’ve been trying to come up with something positive to take away from this and it was hard because there isn’t much,” he later said, “but the best thing I think I was able to come up with is this: Gratitude.”
“It seems to be all we can do is be grateful for the time that we had with them, and for the time that we have left with each other. And that’s all.”
The television host then encouraged the crowd at the Los Angeles arena to “say hello to the people around you, to be grateful for life and for the fact that we are all here together.”
Vanessa Bryant took the podium next to share stories about her late husband and daughter.
“Thank you all so much for being here, it means so much to us,” Vanessa, 37, began. “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.”
Joined by her girls — Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and 7-month-old Capri — the matriarch was surrounded by their family and friends, along with her late husband’s former basketball colleagues and teammates.
Vanessa continued her speech by first honoring Gianna.
“My baby girl,” she said. “Gianna Bryant is an amazingly sweet and gentle soul. She was always thoughtful.”
Continued Vanessa, “She was daddy’s girl but I know she loved her mamma. She was one of my very best friends.”
Vanessa noted that the budding athlete “was very competitive like her daddy,” but that “Kobe always said she was me — she had my fire, my personality and sarcasm, but she was tender and loving on the inside.”
“She had the best laugh. It was infectious, it was pure and genuine. Kobe and Gianna naturally gravitated toward each other. “
Vanessa noted that her daughter “loved family traditions” and “looked out for everyone.”
“We will not be able to see Gianna go to highschool with Natalia … we didn’t get the chance to teach her how to drive a car,” said Vanessa. “I won’t be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day. I’ll never get to see my baby girl walk down the aisle, have a father-daughter dance with her daddy … or have babies of her own.”
Concluded Vanessa, “I miss you, all of you, every day.”
“Now for my soulmate,” said Vanessa before transitioning to words of remembrance about her husband. “He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words.”
Continued the grieving wife, “I have no idea how I deserved a man who loved or wanted me more than Kobe.”
“We loved each other with our whole beings, two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family and raising our sweet and amazing girls,” she said of her longtime husband, who she married in 2001.
Vanessa also paid tribute to Kobe’s much-documented love of fatherhood, saying, “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.”
She added, “He had a tender heart.”
“But I want my daughters to know the amazing person, husband and father he was,” said Vanessa. “The kind of man who wanted to teach the future generations to be better … he taught us all valuable lessons about life and sports … we’re so thankful he left those lessons and stories behind for us.”
Concluding her emotional speech, Vanessa said of her husband and daughter, “They were so easy to love. Everyone naturally gravitated toward 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 heaven together,” said Vanessa, before telling her late husband, “Babe, you take care of our Gigi. … we’re still the best team.”
WNBA player Diana Taurasi, whom Bryant lovingly nicknamed "The White Mamba" after himself, took the podium next to share stories about Kobe and Gianna.
Alicia Keys played Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," which Bryant's friend and Lakers GM Rob Pelinka revealed in his speech the basketball star was teaching himself to play for Vanessa.
Michael Jordan was also among the mourners to pay tribute to his late friend.
“I’m grateful to be here to honor Gigi and celebrate the gift that Kobe gave us all,” said Jordan. “What he accomplished as a basketball player, as a businessman and a storyteller and as a father. In the game of basketball, and life as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank. He left it all on the floor.”
“It may be a surprise to people that Kobe and I were very close friends,” the NBA icon said. “He was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe.”
Jordan noted that Bryant wanted “to be the best basketball player that he could be.”
And that had an effect on Jordan, he told the emotional crowd.
“As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be,” he recalled, then joking, “To do that, you had 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 … we talked about business, we talked about family, we talked about everything, he was just trying to be a better person.”
There were moments of levity in Jordan’s speech, with him poking fun at his own infamous crying face meme.
As he wiped away tears, Jordan said, “Now he’s got me, I’ll have to look at another crying meme.”
The crowd laughed uproariously, and Jordan continued, “I told my wife I wasn’t gonna do this because I didn’t want to see that [meme] for the next three or four years.”
Tying it into Bryant’s personality, Jordan said, “He knows how to get to you in a way that affects you personally, even though he’s being a pain in the ass … he can bring out the best in you, and he did that for me.”
Concluding his emotional speech, Jordan told the crowd, “When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died … 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 I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could.”
Long-time teammate and fellow Laker Shaquille O'Neal spoke about his relationship with Kobe and memories of the three consecutive NBA championships they won during the eight years they played together.
“When I ever imagined speaking to a group of people about Kobe Bryant, I usually pictured it in a context of a Hall of Fame induction or as a guest speaker at one of Kobe and Vanessa’s foundation events, but never did I imagine that I would be here speaking today … and it pains me to my core,” he said.
“Like all of you, I continue to be devastated over the loss of my friend, my little brother, Kobe Bryant and my beautiful niece Gigi,” he continued. “All of us were forever changed on January 26.”
Calling Bryant “a loyal friend and a true renaissance man,” O’Neal went on to discuss their “very complex relationship,” which he said wasn’t always what it seemed from the outside.
“Kobe and I pushed one another to play some of the greatest basketball of all time,” he explained, adding that he was proud play alongside Bryant and be a part of the Lakers championship-winning legacy.
“Yeah, sometimes like immature kids, we argued, we fought, bantered, and made offhand remarks to each other, 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 continued.
“In truth, Kobe and I always maintained a deep respect and love for one another,” he added.
The NBA star went on to recall a hilarious interaction between himself and the late Lakers star after their teammates complained that Bryant wasn’t passing the ball on the court.
“I said I’ll talk to him. So I said, ‘Kobe, there’s no ‘I’ in team’ and Kobe said, ‘I know, but there’s an ‘M-E’ in motherf—,’ ” he shared through laughter. “So I went back and … I said, ‘Just get the rebound, he’s not passing.’ “
O’Neal also promised to continue Bryant’s legacy and be there for his family, before ending the heartfelt tribute on a sweet note.
“Just know that we got your back, brother. I’ll look after things down here,” he said. “I promise to teach Natalia, Bianka and baby Capri all your moves. I promise I will not teach them my free throw techniques.”
“For now, I take comfort in the fact that as we speak, Kobe and Gianna are holding hands, walking to the nearest basketball court,” he finished. “I love you, my man. ‘Til we meet again, rest in peace, brother.”
Christina Aguilera honored Kobe Bryant’s youth in Italy with a stunning performance of “Ave Maria” in the country’s native language. The singer wore a black suit as she sang the Franz Schubert song in Italian while accompanied by live instrumentals.
Bryant spent several years in Italy — from age 6 to his teens — while his father Joe Bryant played basketball there.
Celebrity friends and fans of the Bryant family seen at the ceremony included: Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, Khloé Kardashian and Kris Jenner.
Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez
Ayesha and Stephen Curry
Current Los Angeles Laker Anthony Davis
Iconic Laker Magic Johnson
Retired NBA player Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union
A long line of fans wearing Kobe and Los Angeles Lakers jerseys and memorabilia wrapped around the venue.
Fans carried posters of the late player as they arrived at the Staples Center.
Alyssa Shapiro, 27, of Huntington Beach, and her father Rick Shapiro, 55, stood outside holding posters in honor of the late father and daughter.