NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others who died in a helicopter crash last month were remembered in a public memorial held at the Staples Centre, the home of LA Lakers on Monday. Also Read - Boston Celtics Guard Marcus Smart 'Corona-Free', 10 Days After Testing Positive
Basketball legend and sporting icon Michael Jordan broke down recalling Kobe saying a part of him died with his ‘little brother’. “When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died, and as I look in this arena, across the globe, a piece of you died,” a tearful Jordan said at the memorial. “”I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories and knowing that I had a little brother.” Also Read - Coronavirus Pandemic: Kevin Durant Among Four Brooklyn Nets Players to Have Tested Positive
“I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace, little brother.” Also Read - Coronavirus: NBA Suspends Remainder of The Season After Utah Jazz Player Tests Positive
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The memorial called “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” was attended by 20,000 fans apart from several high-profile celebrities including Kobe’s wife Vaneesa, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, Beyonce, filmmaker Spike Lee among others and was officiated by American TV host Jimmy Kimmel.
“Kobe and I have pushed one another to play some of the greatest basketball of all time and I am proud that no other team has accomplished the three-peat the Lakers have done since Shaq-and-the-Kobe Lakers did it,” O’Neal said recalling the multiple titles he with with Kobe while their time together at LA Lakers.
He touched upon the on-court rivalry they shared saying there was nothing but respect between the duo. “We fought, bantered or insulted each other with off-handed remarks,” he said.
“Make no mistake,” he added. “Folks thought we were on bad terms, (but) when the cameras were turned off, he and I would throw a wink at each other.”
Kobe’s widow Vanessa, in a heartbreaking tribute, said “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home together.”
“I won’t be able to tell her (Gianna) how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day,” she said through tears, receiving a standing ovation for the tribute. I’ll never get to see my baby girl walk down the aisle, have a father-daughter dance with her daddy,” she added.
Beyonce opened the ceremony performing Kobe’s favourite song “XO” from her 2013 album.