Kobe Bryant’s Memorial

On Monday, February  24, 2020 a memorial was held at the Staples Center to honor the life of basketball legend and Olympic gold medalist, Kobe Bryant, and his 13 year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant. The memorial also commemorated the lives of the 7 other people who were killed alongside the Bryants’ in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. The other victims of the fatal crash were: Alyssa Altobelli, friend & teammate of Gianna, and her father John Altobelli and her mother Keri Altobelli; Payton Chester, friend & teammate of Gianna, and her mother Sarah Chester; Christina Mauser, the three girls basketball coach; and the pilot Ara Zobayan.

The two-hour celebration of life opened with a performance from singer and family friend of the Bryants’, Beyoncé Knowles Carter. “I want you to sing so loud they can hear the love,” she said. Beyoncé sang gospel renditions of her songs “XO,” which she revealed was Kobe’s favorite and “Halo.” Beyoncé even changed the ending of her song to say, “He will be your, she will be your halo,” a way of referencing Kobe and Gianna.

A highlight reel from Kobe’s basketball career was then played and was followed by an opening statement from talk show host and friend of Kobe Bryant, Jimmy Kimmel who was the announcer for the memorial service. Followed was an incredibly touching and eye-watering speech from Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and mother of Gianna. “They were so full of love and adventure. God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to Heaven together,” she said.

Other speakers included olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion for the Phoenix Mercury, Diana Taurasi; college basketball player and mentor to Gianna, Sabrina Ionescu; and Geno Auriemma, the coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team whom Gianna wished to play for. Kobe’s agent, close friend, and godfather to Gianna; Rob Pelinka, recounted his last text messages with Kobe moments before the plane crash. Heartfelt speeches were given from basketball legends Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal as well.

The memorial also included performances from singers Christina Aguilera, who sang “Ave Maria,” and Alica Keys, who played Behtoveen’s “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano. This song is significant because Kobe had taught himself how to play the difficult musical number on the piano in order to perform it for his wife while he was away from her on extended trips. Kobe Bryant’s Oscar winning short Dear, Basketball was even played for the entire arena to see. 

Family members, friends, celebrities, and fans came together in the area that fans call “The House that Kobe Built,” to pay respects to the 9 beautiful lives lost. Tickets for the memorial were even sold to the public, with all the proceeds going to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation. A foundation dedicated to carrying on Kobe and Gianna’s legacy through charitable endeavors in sports.

The full celebration of life can be watched at: https://youtu.be/oogOLnk5eg8