Vanessa Bryant made her first public appearance during Kobe and Gianna Bryant's Celebration of Life on Monday

By Steve Helling and Jason Duaine Hahn
February 25, 2020 03:19 PM
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Vanessa Bryant wanted to say the “exact right thing” during her emotional speech honoring husband Kobe Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, at their celebration of life on Monday, a source tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

In her first public appearance since the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that claimed the lives of her husband, daughter, and seven others, Vanessa offered her gratitude for the support she has received from friends and fans since the tragic incidents.

During Kobe and Gianna’s memorial, Vanessa shared touching stories of her daughter, who was a budding basketball player with dreams of making it to the WNBA. While she admitted Gianna had many of her father’s attributes and was very much a “daddy’s girl,” Vanessa said she always knew how much “[Gianna] loved her mamma.”

Vanessa called Kobe “the MVP of girl dads, or MVD,” and spoke about the valuable lessons he left for her and their three surviving daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and 7-month-old Capri.

“She spent a lot of time on that, to say the exact right thing,” the source tells PEOPLE of Vanessa’s speech. “It took everything she had.”

The event at Staples Center — where Kobe won five NBA championships during his time on the Los Angeles Lakers — was the culmination of a series of tributes around the world since the crash.

Vanessa Bryant
| Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty

Now the family is looking forward to having more time to heal.

“She’s exhausted but she knows that after [Monday] she can rest,” the source tells PEOPLE.

For more on Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Earlier this month, PEOPLE confirmed Kobe and Gianna were laid to rest. The date of disposition on death certificates obtained by PEOPLE was listed as February 7 at Pacific View Memorial Park and Mortuary in Corona Del Mar, California.

The Bryant Family
| Credit: Vanessa Bryant/Instagram

Over the past month, Vanessa has been surrounded by loved ones.

“She is never alone. There is always someone with her: family, friends, people who really care for her,” the source tells PEOPLE. “She has times of weakness like you would expect, but she’s also very strong. She’s very determined that she will raise the other daughters in a way that they will be okay. And that she will be okay.”

“She is also treasuring his private side that belonged only to her and the girls,” the insider says. “That’s the side she will miss the most.”

“Ultimately, she will be okay,” the source adds. “The kids will be okay”.

If you would like to help the families of the victims of the crash, consider donating to the Mamba on Three Fund. Contributions to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation will help support youth sports.