NBA legend Michael Jordan could not hold back his tears. In a vibrant tribute to his former opponent Kobe Bryant, the basketball player told how their rivalry had turned into friendship. "Kobe was a very close friend. He was like my little brother," said the former Chicago Bulls player. "By getting to know him, I sought to be the best big brother for him."
At his side, some 20,000 anonymous and a crowd of NBA stars and all walks of life were present, Monday, February 24, at Staples Center, the hall of the Los Angeles Lakers, to pay a last tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, died January 26 in a helicopter crash.
“As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.”
Michael Jordan on Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/dTSp7VDosP
The entire NBA family was present for this public farewell: the current Lakers team, LeBron James, at the head, but also, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Phil Jackson, Pau Gasol, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Stephen Curry, James Harden, not to mention the boss of the League Adam Silver.
The tribute began with a video broadcast on giant screens returning to Bryant's sporting and personal history, before Beyoncé sang her two hits "XO" and "Halo". After which, ovationated, moved, she looked up there in the direction of Kobe, whose jerseys are enthroned on the ceiling.
Entitled "A celebration of life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant", it was decided to make this tribute on February 24, 2020, a symbolic date. Kobe Bryant wore the number 24 jersey for the Lakers, while his daughter, a promising young player, played with number 2.
"He was the most incredible husband"
Music celebrities - Kanye West, Jennifer Lopez, Snoop dogg - film - Spike Lee - and television, such as host Jimmy Kimmel, also attended the ceremony. They all stood up and were moved to tears when Vanessa Bryant spoke, her throat tied with grief.
About Gianna, she said, "We can't see GG going to high school with Natalia. I can't tell her how beautiful she is on her wedding day. I'll never see my little girl walk in the aisle, dancing with his father. "
"She would probably have become the best player in the WNBA [NBA Women's Championship, editor's note]. She would have made a huge difference in women's basketball. GG was determined to change the way everyone views women in sport. ", she added.
Kobe "was everything to me since I was 17 and a half," she said. "I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidante and his protector. He was the most incredible husband."
"We really had an incredible love story. We loved each other with our whole being. Two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family and raising our sweet and incredible daughters. Kobe was the dad's MVP," she said. .
“He was my everything.”
Vanessa Bryant remembers Kobe at the Celebration of Life. pic.twitter.com/vHb9xP0qmm
A complaint by his widow
A month after the tragedy, the whole city mourns the Lakers star. Buses announce between two stops "RIP Kobe" ("Rest in Pais Kobe") and portraits of Bryant father and daughter are displayed on giant panels with the caption "8 24 FOREVER THE ONE".
On January 26, Kobe Bryant, 41, his daughter Gianna, 13, and 7 others died in the helicopter accident in northwest Los Angeles.
On this day when a moving public farewell is offered to them, Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit against the helicopter company and the rights holders of pilot Ara Zobayan, who had also died in the tragedy.
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