Special Moments From Kobe And Gigi Bryant's Memorial

L.A Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his beloved daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, 13, were tragically killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020. Seven other people perished in the accident alongside the pair, including Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli; his wife, Keri; their daughter, Alyssa; assistant girls basketball coach Christina Mauser; mother-daughter duo Sarah and Payton Chester; and pilot Ara Zobayan.

Many are devastated about the tragedy, from late-night hosts to the countless celebrities who called Kobe a friend, ut it's the basketball star's wife, Vanessa Bryant, who has arguably suffered the most. "There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now," she wrote on Instagram two days after the horrific incident.

In the midst of her grief, Vanessa managed to plan a memorial service for the father-daughter duo on Feb. 24, 2020, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. The mom-of-four chose this date because 2 is Gigi's basketball jersey number, 24 is Kobe's number, and 20 signifies how long they were married. 

An unbelievable amount of fans attended the "A Celebration of Life" ceremony, including fellow athletes and famous faces who love the Bryant family. Given the circumstances, one can imagine how emotional this event was for anyone who attended or watched the live stream. In case you missed the service, here are all the special moments from Kobe and Gigi Bryant's memorial.

Beyoncé beautifully honored Kobe Bryant

Beyoncé surprised fans at Kobe and Gianna Bryant's memorial service when she opened with her 2013 single, "XO." Clad in a Lakers-gold suit with purple nails and jewelry, she told the audience, "I'm here because I love Kobe and this was one of his favorite songs." The singer then transitioned into an emotional version of "Halo," a performance she put on in front of a choir all dressed in white. Beyoncé ended the song by blowing a kiss toward the sky. The powerful moment drew applause from Vanessa Bryant, who was later photographed being consoled by the talented star. 

Beyoncé was a longtime friend of Kobe. Not only did the basketball legend take his daughters to Queen Bey's concerts over the years, but he also made a cameo in the Destiny's Child music video for its 1999 hit, "Bug a Boo." 

After the horrific helicopter crash, Beyoncé captioned a shot of Kobe and Gigi on her Instagram: "I will continue to diligently pray for your Queens. You are deeply missed beloved Kobe."

Vanessa Bryant delivered an emotional speech

Of course, it goes without saying that Vanessa Bryant's speeches about Kobe and Gigi Bryant were special beyond measure. As she struggled to begin her tribute, the crowd lent its support with a gentle applause.

The California native began by memorializing Gigi, who she referred to as the family's "shepherd" — a tender leader and teacher who kept the family together. "Gigi was very competitive like her daddy, but Giana had a sweet grace about her," she said. "Her smile was like sunshine. Her smile took up her entire face, like mine. Kobe always said she was me. She had my fire, my personality and sarcasm. She she was tender and loving on the inside. She had the best laugh." Vanessa also spoke about her daughter's athleticism, saying that Gigi could have become a standout player in the WNBA. "She would have made a huge difference for women's basketball. Gigi was motivated to change the way everyone viewed women in sports."

As for Kobe, his wife described him as her soulmate. "I couldn't see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player. He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children ... He was my everything," she said. "...I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidant, and his protector. He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words."

Vanessa ended her speeches by asking Kobe to take care of Gigi, and she promised to be there for their three surviving children.

WNBA stars paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant

Kobe Bryant touched many lives on and off the basketball court, including those of WNBA stars Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu. Kobe, who was a champion of women's basketball, became even more invested in the WNBA when his daughter Gianna became interested in the league. 

Oregon Ducks star Ionescu spoke about that impact in her heartfelt speech at the memorial service. "I ask each of you, every Girl Dad, every human here with a voice, a platform, and a heart, to not let his sun set. Shine for us, for our sport where he once did. Invest in us with the same passion and drive and respect and love as he did his own daughter." 

Four-time Olympic medalist Taurasi joked about Gianna talents, telling the crowd, "Her skill was undeniable at an early age. I mean, who has a turn-away fadeaway jumper at 11? LeBron [James] barely got it today." She also commended the teen's grit, adding, "Gigi in many ways represents the future of women's basketball, a future where a young woman aspires to play in the WNBA ... She represents a time where a young girl doesn't need permission to play. Her skill would command respect."

Simply put, it's incredibly powerful that Gigi's role models were able to speak at her memorial service.

Michael Jordan called Kobe Bryant his little brother

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant often played against and were compared to one another throughout their illustrious basketball careers, but as Jordan noted in his tearful speech at the memorial: "Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I," Jordan said. "I just wanted to talk about Kobe." 

The Chicago Bulls legend emotionally discussed how the Black Mamba was like a younger sibling who always gets into your stuff, joking how he'd often receive late-night texts and calls from his protege. "It was a nuisance," Jordan recalled. "But that nuisance turned into love over a period of time just because the admiration that they had for you as big brothers or big sisters — the questions, the wanting to know every little detail about life that they were about to embark on."

It was unbelievably touching to hear Jordan reminisce about Kobe, but it was the conclusion to his speech that left many in tears. "When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died," Jordan said. "...I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could. Please, rest in peace, little brother."