Dressed in all black, Bryant spoke first about daughter Gianna, at points sniffling and choking back tears, but moving forward with resolve.
“Gianna Bryant was an amazingly sweet and gentle soul. She was one of my very best friends.
“I loved the way she looked up at me while hugging me. It was as if she was soaking me all in.” she said.
Bryant then spoke of her “soulmate,” Kobe, speaking to a tender side that many on the hardwood never saw.
“Kobe was known as a fierce competitor on the basketball court,” she said. But to Vanessa, “He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children. “He was my everything.”
”Babe, take care of our Gigi. And I got Nani, Bibi and Coco. We’re still the best team” – Vanessa Bryant remembers Kobe
Around 20,000, including many of the NBA’s biggest luminaries, were expected to attend the Monday service in Staples Center, which became known as the “House that Kobe Built” during his career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow and Gianna’s mother, chose the date — 2/24/2020 — for deeply personal reasons. Gianna, an aspiring basketball star, wore No. 2, and her father wore No. 24 during the latter part of his NBA career. The year 2020, his wife said, symbolizes his 20 years with the Lakers and the 20 years the Bryants were a couple.