Kobe Bryant was mourned on Sunday in the small town of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, where he spent part of his childhood when his father, Joe Bryant, played basketball there.
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'He was my everything': Vanessa Bryant said she and Kobe had 'hoped to grow old together' in a tearful eulogy to her late husband
Speaking at a public memorial at Staples Center on Monday, a grieving Vanessa Bryant gave thousands...Speaking at a public memorial at Staples Center on Monday, a grieving Vanessa Bryant gave thousands of people glimpses of Kobe Bryant when he wasn't on the basketball court. The longtime Los Angeles Laker died on January 26 in a helicopter crash that killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, along with seven other passengers. "He would do anything for me," Vanessa Bryant said of her late husband, who was also a "doting" and "hands-on" father. "May you both rest in peace and have fun in Heaven. Until we meet again. We love you both, and miss you. Forever and always, Mommy," she said to Kobe and Gigi at the conclusion of her speech. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. In an emotional speech that had more than a few guests crying, Vanessa Bryant said on Monday that God knew her husband and daughter "couldn't be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to Heaven together." Kobe and Gianna Bryant were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash in the Calabasas hills on January 26. Nearly 20,000 people were expected to attend the Celebration of Life that was held in memory of all the victims at the Staples Center, home to the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom the NBA icon spent his entire career. In her eulogy, Vanessa Bryant shared with people an intimate look into the man they know and revere as a basketball legend. "I couldn't see him as a celebrity nor just an incredible basketball player," she said. "He was my sweet husband, and the beautiful father of our children. He was mine. He was my everything." 'He would do anything for me' The pair had been together for nearly 20 years. Vanessa Bryant, now 37, was 17 when they met and Kobe Bryant, 21. "I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidant, and his protector," she said. "He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words ... He would do anything for me. I have no idea how I deserved a man that loved and wanted me more than Kobe." Vanessa Bryant also credited Kobe Bryant, her "soulmate," as the "romantic one" in their marriage, who looked forward to and made special plans for Valentine's Day and their anniversary. "He gave me the actual notebook and the blue dress Rachel McAdams wore in 'The Notebook' movie," she recalled, adding that he picked it because that's what Allie was wearing when she reunited with Noah. "We had hoped to grow old together like the movie," Vanessa Bryant said. "We really had an amazing love story. We loved each other with our whole beings. Two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family, and raising our sweet and amazing girls." 'MVP of girl dads' "Kobe was the MVP of girl dads — or MVD," Bryant continued. "He never left the toilet seat up. He always told the girls how beautiful and smart they are. He taught them how to be brave and how to keep pushing forward when things get tough." She also shared funny stories about their time together, all of which highlighted his love for his family and children. After retiring from the NBA in 2018, Kobe Bryant opted to pick up and drop off their children from school. "When Kobe was still playing, I used to show up an hour early to be the first in line to pick up Natalia and Gianna from school, and I told him he couldn't drop the ball once he took over. He was late — one time — and we most definitely let him know that I was never late." After that he was at his girls' school an hour and 20 minutes before school let out, Vanessa Bryant said of Kobe Bryant's "doting," "hands-on" and "present" way of being a father. Never too busy for his family He was similarly "tender" toward her as well. "Kobe somehow knew where I was at all times, specifically when I was late to his games," Vanessa Bryant remembered. "He would worry about me if I wasn't in my seat at the start of each game. He would ask security where I was at the first time out of the first quarter. And my smart a-- would tell him that he wasn't going to drop 81 points within the first 10 minutes of the game." Eventually he realized that as a parent it's not always possible to stick to a schedule, she said, but "the fact that he could play on an intense professional level and still be concerned by making sure we made it to the game safely was just another example of how family came first to him. One of the greatest joys of Kobe Bryant's life was being able to coach Gigi's basketball team. "She was thoughtful like him," Vanessa Bryant shared. "They were so easy to love. Everyone naturally gravitated towards them. They were funny, happy, silly, and they loved life. They were so full of joy and adventure." Kobe had hoped Bianca and Capri would follow in his footsteps so he could spend extra time with them, Vanessa Bryant said. But that wasn't to be. "Now they won't have their daddy and sister here to teach them, and that is truly a loss I do not understand. But I'm so thankful Kobe heard Coco say 'Dada,'" she said. 'Until we meet again' His tragic death means their family will miss out on all the memories that had yet to create together, from small moments like his youngest children starting kindergarten to being able to walk all four girls down the aisle one day. "But I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband, and father he was" and the effort he put into empowering the youth, she said. In a voice that broke, Vanessa Bryant spoke directly to her husband and asked him to enjoy his time with their daughter. "Babe, you take care of our Gigi, and I got Nani, BB, and Coco," she said, her voice breaking. "We are still the best team. We love and miss you, booboo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace and have fun in Heaven. Until we meet again. We love you both, and miss you. Forever and always, Mommy." Read more: 'She was so full of life': Vanessa Bryant laments not being able to watch her daughter grow up at the memorial for Gianna and Kobe 'God I wish they were here': Vanessa Bryant described her raw grief at losing Kobe and Gianna, alongside a video of them playing basketball Vanessa Bryant posted a heartbreaking tribute to Kobe and Gianna: 'There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now' Vanessa Bryant announced a fund to direct donations to other families of victims of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Most maps of Louisiana aren't entirely right. Here's what the state really looks like.
LA Lakers owner Jeanie Buss called Kobe Bryant 'family' in an emotional tribute, and said he inspired her to be a strong female leader in the NBA
Jeanie Buss, who owns the LA Lakers, posted a heartfelt tribute to Lakers legends Kobe Bryant,...Jeanie Buss, who owns the LA Lakers, posted a heartfelt tribute to Lakers legends Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash. She recalled a lunch in 2013 with Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who also killed in the crash. Buss said Bryant told Gianna in the meeting that he wanted to show her an example of a strong female leader in the NBA. Buss said that she believes Bryant had another purpose — to give her strength and inspiration after her own father's recent death. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The owner of the Los Angeles Lakers posted an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant, in which she said he was like family to her, and inspired her to be a strong, female leader in a male-dominated sport. Jeanie Buss posted a message to her Instagram page on Thursday praising the longtime Lakers player, who was killed alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash on Sunday. Buss said she counts Bryant as family since her father, former Lakers owner Jerry Buss, "loved you like a son." Kobe, I don’t know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers. My father loved you like a son, which makes us family. When you invited me to lunch shortly after my father passed away, I was struggling to find motivation and purpose. Kobe, you brought Gianna with you to spend some time with me. You explained that you wanted to show her that women can be leaders in the NBA, just like the men. At first, it seemed like an action of a devoted father setting an example for his daughter. But in actuality – and I am positively sure you knew EXACTLY what you were doing – what you did was give me the inspiration and strength I was searching for. I reflect on that day often and it makes me smile and it makes me strong. I call on that memory whenever I feel down and need a bit of courage. For everything you did on the court that filled me with so much joy and love, for all the lives you changed through basketball itself, it was that day with Gigi that reignited my drive and determination. Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri - I am so sorry for your loss. We are grateful to have you in our lives and we will always be here for you. To the families that also lost loved ones on Sunday, the entire Laker family mourns with you. Laker Nation - we are one family grieving the loss of people we all loved dearly. We will mourn together, cry together but we will also heal together, love together and win TOGETHER. We love you. Kobe - that’s what you made you so unbelievably special. You not only inspired us towards greatness, you showed us the way. : : To learn more about how you can help the families affected by this tragedy go to MambaOnThree.org and to further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports visit MambaSportsFoundation.org #peace #love #joy #family #Mamba #Mambacita #2 #8 #24 : : Picture taken in February 2016 on the way to #NBAAllStar game in #Toronto A post shared by Jeanie Buss (@jeaniebuss) on Jan 30, 2020 at 9:05am PST on Jan 30, 2020 at 9:05am PST She said she, like all Lakers fans, are "one family grieving the loss of people we all loved dearly." She recounted a 2013 meeting with Bryant and Gianna, not long after Jerry Buss died, which she said helps inspire her as a high-powered woman in the NBA. Buss said Bryant brought Gianna with her to a lunch, and said it was "to show her that women can be leaders in the NBA, just like the men." However, she said, she believes Bryant also wanted to inspire her. "I am positively sure you knew EXACTLY what you were doing," she wrote. "What you did was give me the inspiration and strength I was searching for. I reflect on that day often and it makes me smile and it makes me strong. "I call on that memory whenever I feel down and need a bit of courage. For everything you did on the court that filled me with so much joy and love, for all the lives you changed through basketball itself, it was that day with Gigi that reignited my drive and determination." The Lakers postponed a game with the LA Clippers which had been meant to take place on Tuesday, as a mark of respect for Bryant. The new date has yet to be announced.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 5 things about the NFL that football fans may not know