Kobe Bryant, Daughter Gianna Remembered at LA Memorial Service

Kobe and Gianna Bryant Celebration (Credit: Evan Gole, Staples Center)

Through music and tearful tributes, Kobe Bryant’s friends and family remembered the late NBA legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna at a memorial service Monday in Los Angeles.

The service got underway just before 10:30 a.m. in the Staples Center, where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring.

Beyoncé opened the “Celebration of Life: Kobe and Gianna” by performing her songs “XO” and “Halo,” with backing by a choir and orchestra.

“I’m here because I love Kobe, and this was one of his favorite songs,” Beyoncé said before performing “XO.”


Longtime Lakers fan Jimmy Kimmel served as master of ceremonies and broke down as he read the names of the nine people killed in the Jan. 26 helicopter crash: Pilot Ara Zobayan; Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli; his wife Keri Altobelli; their 14-year-old daughter Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser, a basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Newport Beach; Payton Chester, a basketball teammate of Gianna’s; her mother, Sarah Chester; and Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

Vanessa Bryant fought back tears as she shared memories about her “baby girl” Gianna and husband Kobe, whom she described as “my everything.”

NBA legend Michael Jordan broke down while speaking about his friendship with Bryant.

“Maybe it surprised people … but we were very close friends,” Jordan said. “Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe.”

“He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be,” Jordan continued. “And as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.” He then joked about his tearful tribute and said he realizes it will become a meme.


Later in the service, Shaquille O’Neal paid tribute to his former Lakers teammate. “Kobe and I pushed each other to play some of the greatest basketball of all time,” O’Neal said. “I’m proud nobody has accomplished what the threepeat Lakers have done since the Shaq and Kobe Lakers did it.”

Alicia Keys played Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on a piano in the arena, and Christina Aguilera sang “Ave Maria.”

Among those in the audience were Lakers owner Jeanie Buss; Magic Johnson; Rick Fox; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Lamar Odom; Lisa Leslie; Dwyane Wade and wife Gabrielle Union; former Lakers coach Byron Scott, and Stephen Curry.

Shortly before the service began, Vanessa Bryant sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed into a Calabasas hillside on a foggy morning. The wrongful-death lawsuit claimed that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions, the Associated Press reported.