To a packed Staples Center crowd in Los Angeles on Monday (Feb. 24), Vanessa, 37, took to the stage to honor their memory.
“Thank you so much for being here. It means so much to us, the outpouring of love and support from around the world has been so uplifting,” she said before reveling in memories of Gianna.
“My baby girl, Gianna Bryant, is an amazingly sweet and gentle soul, she would kiss me every morning and every night.”
Vanessa went to talk about how similar Kobe and Gianna were to one another.
“Her smile took up her entire face, like mine,” she said. “Kobe always said she was me she had my fire, my personality… she was tender and loving on the inside. She had the best laugh, it was infectious, it was pure and genuine. Kobe and Gianna naturally gravitated toward each other.”
That, and Gianna was an amazing girl.
“She was a nice person, a leader, a teacher … she gave the best hugs and kisses,” she remembered, fighting back tears. ” … I miss looking at her beautiful face.”
“I won’t be able to see her go to high school with [sister] Natalia, I won’t be able to see her walk down the aisle,” she continued, breaking down in tears. “Or have a father daughter-dance with her daddy and have babies of her own. … She probably would have been the best player in the WNBA. She would have made a huge difference in the way women are viewed in sports.”
After paying tribute to Gianna, she heartbreakingly spoke of her late husband, who she referred to as her “soulmate.”
“Now for my soulmate. Kobe was known for being a fierce competitor on the basketball court, the greatest of all time, a writer, and Oscar winner and the Black Mamba, but to me, he was Kob-Kob, my boo-boo, may bae-boo, my papi-chulo,” she said through tears. ” I was his vee-bee, his principesa, his reina, his queen mamba. I couldn’t see him as a celebrity, nor as an incredible basketball player, he was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children. He was mine. He was my everything. Kobe and I have been together since I was 17 and a half years old. I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidant and his protector. He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words.”
She also went into detail about how he embodied the idea of #GirlDad and didn’t shy away from being a present, empathetic and engaged father.
“He happily did carpool, he was a doting father, he was a father that was hands-on and present,” she shared. “He shared a love of movies and the break-down of films with Natalia. He loves your typical tear-jerkers, Steel Magnolias, Little Women … he had a tender heart.”
Adding, “I want my daughters to remember the amazing husband and father he was,” she said. “… He also liked working on projects to improve people’s lives.”
Vanessa broke down in tears when she talked about Kobe and Gianna dying together.
“God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other,” she said. “He had to bring them home to him together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. I got Natalia, Bianka and Capri. We’re still the best team. We love and miss you boo-boo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven. Until we meet again, we love and miss you forever and always.”
See her speech here:
As we previously reported, on Jan 29, Vanessa issued a public statement via social media, a mere three days after the tragic and fatal helicopter crash.
“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time,” Vanessa wrote in a lengthy Instagram post.
“Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.
Vanessa continued, “We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”
As we all know, Kobe, Gianna, and seven other passengers died in a helicopter crash heading to Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks. It’s reported they were attending a basketball practice.
Praying for Vanessa and her girls right now.