LOS ANGELES – Vanessa Bryant has given an intimate portrait of her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna during the public tribute that took place this Monday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Lakers, with about 20,000 attendees.
Vanessa said the world viewed Kobe as a celebrity and basketball legend, the “Black Mamba”, but to her he was her best friend and protector.
She described him as a loving husband and a devoted father with a tender heart and so he was “the dad’s MVP”. He loved watching romantic movies with them and putting them to bed every night.
Vanessa said that she and Kobe planned to renew their vows and travel the world together. They talked about how they hoped to become “cool grandparents” after their children had their own children.
Fighting back tears, Vanessa described Gianna as a sweet and thoughtful soul who loved to always kiss her mother to say good morning and good night.
Vanessa said Gianna loved to swim, sing hit songs, bake cookies, and watch “Survivor” and NBA games with her father. She added that the 13-year-old girl loved basketball so much that she even offered advice to the children’s school team.
Vanessa predicted that Gianna could have become “the best player in the WNBA.”
As tears streamed down his face, NBA legend Michael Jordan said they viewed Kobe Bryant as a little brother.
Jordan joked Monday that, as little brothers, young Bryant peppered him with questions about what to expect as his career with the Los Angeles Lakers began to take off.
The former Chicago Bulls superstar said he received calls from Bryant at all hours, eager to talk about the game, business and family.
Jordan said Bryant was eager to become the best basketball player, and it made him want to be the best big brother he could be.
Vannessa Bryant thanked through the samples of affection through Instagram.
He said that “when Bryant died, a piece of me did too.”
For his part, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal said that he and his former teammate had a complex relationship, but that they always respected each other and never took things too seriously.
The tribute, where 20,000 attendees are expected, had several musical performances by Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera.
The date chosen for the public tribute, 2/24/20, contains a special symbolism for the Bryant family, since the two is the number that Gianna wore, the 24 is the one that Kobe Bryant carried much of his career, and the 20 is the number of seasons he played in the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kobe Bryant, 41, a former Los Angeles Lakers player, was traveling with his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people aboard a helicopter that he routinely used to avoid known Los Angeles traffic.
Orange County University baseball coach John Altobelli also died in the tragic accident; his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, who played on the same team as Gianna; basketball coach Christina Mauser; another teammate and her mother, Payton and Sarah Chester, and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.
Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the player’s sports foundation, which was renamed the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation.
Kobe and her daughter were buried on February 7 in a private funeral service at a cemetery in Orange County, California, very close to what was their residence.