In a heartbreaking and powerful speech, Vanessa Bryant reflected on her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna's close bond and the legacies they leave behind. "God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other," she said as she held back tears, "he had to bring them home to have them together."
The NBA legend, his daughter, aka "Gigi," along with seven others were killed in a tragic helicopter crash last month. Today, thousands of people — including several of Kobe's closest friends — poured into the Staples Center in Los Angeles to honor their memories. It was Vanessa's tribute to her daughter and husband, however, that moved so many to tears.
As Vanessa and her three surviving daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri, entered Staples Center on Monday, the crowd honored them with a standing ovation. During the bereaved wife and mother's remarks about Kobe and Gigi — the first time she's publicly spoken about their deaths — there likely wasn't a dry eye in the arena.
Vanessa first eulogized her 13-year-old daughter, who, like her famous father, was a skilled basketball player. It was well-known that Gigi had hoped to one day to play in the WNBA. Her mother also remembered her as a talented baker, dancer, and homemade card maker. "Gigi was very competitive like her daddy, but Gianna had a sweet grace about her,” Vanessa said. “Her smile was like sunshine. Her smile took up her entire face.”
Vanessa went on to deliver a eulogy for Kobe, who had been by her side since she was 17. The bereaved wife referred to the retired Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard as the "MVP of girl dads" and described him as "loving, adoring and romantic.” It was at the very end of her speech — just after she took a deep, steadying breath — when Vanessa uttered the words that likely shattered the hearts of all who heard them.
God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together.
"Babe, you take care of our Gigi — and I’ve got Nani, Bibi, and Coco," Vanessa added, using her family members' nicknames for one another. "We’re still the best team. We love and miss you, Boo Boo and Gigi."
Viewers watching the televised celebration of life from home took to Twitter in droves to react to Vanessa's remarks. One person tweeted, "The strength of Vanessa Bryant, to get up there in front of a sold out Staples Center & talk about this tragedy, it’s out of this world. Prayers out to this woman & the entire family. We miss you Kobe & GiGi."
Another Twitter user declared, "The strength Vanessa Bryant just showed is remarkable."
My thoughts are with the Bryant family as they continue to grieve this unimaginable loss.