Kobe Bryant‘s legacy still lives on.
On Monday, a public memorial service was held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate the life of the late Lakers icon and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant.
It was just last month that the two passed away in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. The father-daughter duo were two of nine people who died in the aircraft.
At the public memorial service, Vanessa Bryant honored her husband and baby girl with an emotional and heartfelt speech.
However, according to a source, Vanessa’s eulogy wasn’t necessarily a done deal during Monday’s memorial service. “Vanessa Bryant’s speech was always tentative until the very last minute,” a source told E! News.
Before Jimmy Kimmel was slated to introduce her onstage, the insider explained that Vanessa gave him a “signal” on whether or not she was going to get up and speak.
During the video montage of Kobe, the late-night host was given the go-ahead by Vanessa.
“She, of course, was prepared with her speech either way, but keeping her tentative was a matter of how emotional she was and how comfortable she felt in that moment to make the speech,” the insider shared. “Nobody knew if she was going to do it until [Jimmy] actually announced her.”
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During the service, Vanessa opened up about her most precious moments and memories she had with her husband and teenage daughter.
“He was mine. He was my everything,” she said of the late Lakers legend. “Kobe and I had been together since I was 17.5 years old. I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidante and his protector. He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words.”
“He was the early bird and I was the night owl. I was fire and he was ice, and vice versa at times,” she continued. “We balanced each other out. He would do anything for me. I have no idea how I deserved a man that loved and wanted me more than Kobe. He was charismatic, a gentleman. He was loving, adoring and romantic. He was truly the romantic one in our relationship.”
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Vanessa even opened up about how she and Kobe planned to spend more alone time together, because, in the end, they were ‘best friends first.”
“We loved each other with our whole beings, two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family and raising our sweet and amazing girls,” she expressed. “A couple weeks before they passed, Kobe sent me a sweet text and mentioned how he wanted to spend time together, just the two of us without our kids because I’m his best friend first.”
She added, “We never got the chance to do it. We were busy taking care of our girls and just doing our regular everyday responsibilities, but I’m thankful I have that recent text. It means so much to me. Kobe wanted us to renew our vows.”
In addition to honoring Kobe, Vanessa also paid tribute to Gianna.
“I miss her sweet kisses, her cleverness, her sarcasm, her wit and that adorable sly side smile followed with a grin and burst of laughter,” she shared. “Gigi was sunshine. She brightened up my day every day. I miss looking at her beautiful face. She was always so good, a rule follower. I knew I could always count on her to do the right thing.”
“She was always, always, always considerate of others and their feelings,” she continued. “She was a beautiful, kind, happy, silly, thoughtful and loving daughter and sister. She was so full of life, and had so much more to offer this world. I can’t for the imagine life without her.”
Before closing her speech on her baby girl, she said, “We love you so much, Gigi. I will miss your sweet handmade cards, your sweet kisses, and your gorgeous smile. I miss you, all of you, every day. I love you.”
According to a separate source, a private reception was held after the public memorial service, which also took place at the Staples Center in the Lexus club and San Manuel club.
“Vanessa attended the reception,” the insider shared. “Everybody else who sat on the floor was also invited.”
To honor Kobe and Gianna’s legacy, the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation provides opportunities to young people through sports. For more information or to donate, please click here.
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