In the house that he built and the city that loved him like no other, people gathered to send off one of the best in the world. A true legend he was that he brought the world together to celebrate his life and that of the other 8 people who died with him.
Being eighteen days since the Mamba was laid to rest at a private funeral, thousands gathered at the Staples Centre for a public memorial. In a star-studded event that saw the majority of LA shut down, the event allowed people to finally come to terms with the sudden death of the NBA legend.
Beyoncé opened the Celebration of Life event by singing XO, which was Kobe’s favorite, and Halo. The king of late nights, Jimmy Kimmel then assumed the stage as the official emcee and gave a heartfelt opening speech.
Kobe’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, who was speaking for the first time in public after the demise, described him as a great husband and father. Referring to him as the MVD for the family, she broke down in tears as she read her emotional tribute to her husband and daughter. “ …God knew that they couldn’t be on this earth without each other so he had to bring them home to heaven together’” was one of her heartfelt statements in the stadium that played host to Kobe’s career.
His friends and NBA players then paid tribute to the man who set standards and broke some. Led by Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and LA Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, the crowd got to know all the sides of Kobe on and off the pitch. With Jordan and Shaq bringing moments of laughter to the somber event, the celebs upheld the true definition of a legend in Kobe.
Gianna Bryant, who had become a sensation in the WNBA, was described as the future of the game. WNBA and Olympics icon Diana Taurasi, portrayed her as one of the best and a role model for the girl child to follow their dreams.
Alicia Keys performed a rendition of Moonlight Sonata that Kobe taught himself in order to please Vanessa. Christina Aguilera also performed on this sad night by singing Ava Maria in Italian.
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The two-hour-plus event came to a wrap with Bryant’s final speech at the Staples Centre when his jersey numbers were retired. “Mamba Out,” were the words he said as he let the mic fall. A short showing of Bryant’s Oscar-winning Short film Dear Basketball brought the event to a conclusion.
There are heroes and then there are legends. Heroes get remembered but legends will never die.
Forever in our hearts, fare thee well Mamba.