It was a sad and reflective day at the Staples Center today as fans and friends of the late basketball player Kobe Bryant gathered to celebrate his life as well as that of his daughter Gianna Bryant. The memorial held in their honor saw guests speak about their lives, passion for the game of basketball and love for the people they left behind.
Here’s a look at the top most emotional moments from the memorial today.
Christina Aguilera’s “Ave Maria” performance
The six-time Grammy Award-winning singer Christina Aguilera took the stage at Staples to perform “Ave Maria” for Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial service.
Shaq reflected on his rivalry with Kobe.
Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant’s long time competitor, opened up about life as his teammate.
“We fought and we bantered back and forth with offhanded remarks, but make no mistakes, and you folks thought we were on bad terms, and when the cameras were turned off we would wink at each other and said, ‘let’s go whip some ass.'”
O’Neil also shared a sweet anecdote about their relationship as teammates. “Kobe and I always maintained a deep respect and love with one another. The day Kobe gained my respect was when the guys were complaining, and they said, Kobe’s not passing the ball. I said I will talk to him. I said, Kobe, there’s no “I” in team, and he said, I know, but there’s a “Me” in that m**********r.” Shaq recalled he returned back to his other teammates and said “Just get the rebound, he’s not passing.”26 min ago
Michael Jordan described Kobe’s death saying “a piece of me died.”
Michael Jordan had long been attributed to being Kobe Bryant’s inspiration for his successful basketball careers. Speaking about learning about Bryant’s death, Jordan said “When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died.”
Kobe’s wife Vanessa brought the stadium to tears with her speech.
Though Kobe’s wife Vanessa gave her speech early on during the memorial, her’s was by far the most sentimental and emotional. Speaking about her daughter Giana, Vanessa recalled how she was “very thoughtful and always kissed me good night and kissed me good morning. There were a few occasions where I was absolutely tired from being up with Bianka and Capri, and i thought she had left to school without saying goodbye. I text and say, ‘No kiss?’ And Gianna would reply with, ‘Mama, I kissed you. You were asleep and I didn’t want to wake you.’ She knew how much her morning and evening kisses meant to me, and she was so thoughtful to remember to kiss me every day. She was daddy’s girl, but I know she loved her mama, and she would always show me and tell me that she loved me. She was one of my very best friends.”
Speaking about her husband Kobe, Vanessa recalled how “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 am his best friend first. 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. He wanted Natalia to take over his company and he wanted to travel the world together. We talked about how we would be the fun grandparents to our daughters’ children. He would have been the coolest grandpa..”
Last Friday, Bryant celebrated the 21st anniversary of the day she and Kobe met. She captioned the Instagram post writing “Love at first sight 11/27/99 #21.”
Vanessa and Kobe met in 1999 during a music video shoot while she was still in high school and he was 20 years old. The couple became engaged when she turned 18, announced their engagement at her 18th birthday party, and the Bryants married in April 2001.
In 2013, Kobe shared a picture of the day they met on Instagram.
“On this day 20 years ago I met my best friend, my Queen @vanessabryant I decided to take her on a date to Disneyland tonight to celebrate old school style (pre 4princesses) I love you my mamacita per sempre,” Kobe wrote in the Instagram post at the time.
After their 2001 message, Kobe and Vanessa had four daughters together, Natalia, 17, Gianna, 13, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 1. Tragically, in January, Bryant and Gianna passed away in a helicopter crash alongside seven others.
Last year, Kobe also reflected on the day he met his “best friend,” posting a throwback pic along with the Disneyland snap.
“On this day 20 years ago I met my best friend, my Queen @vanessabryant,” he captioned his post at the time. “I decided to take her on a date to Disneyland tonight to celebrate old school style (pre 4princesses) I love you my mamacita per sempre.”
It’s not the first time Vanessa honored her husband since his death. In October, the former model and philanthropist honored her husband and daughter with tattoos.
Speaking about her loss, Vanessa’s friend La La Anthony told Entertainment Today that she’s done her best to stay strong.
“Well, you know, I’m a real friend, that’s what friends do,” Anthony told ET in September. “You know, you don’t dip out on your friends when it gets really hard. And she’s going through something that is unimaginable, that, you know, I can’t even fathom what that feels like. So, just to be a friend and be there to make her laugh when she needs to, cry when she needs to, is a beautiful thing. But that’s what friends do for each other, you know, so I’m always going to be there for her and the girls and just, you know, want to see her just continue to be strong and amazing.”
Good deeds make for a good world. We all know there’s some sort of truth in that, but these days there’s so much in the world to shadow goodness and kindness in the world. Fortunately, people have been quick to share their memories of acts of kindness and good deeds.
And on Reddit no less!
Users on Reddit are sharing the most humbling acts of kindness they’ve ever experiencexd.
Check them out below!
“This is a few humbling kind experiences all wrapped into one: My mom got suddenly diagnosed with cancer and deteriorated unbelievably quickly. She seemed totally healthy when she was diagnosed, yet died 6 weeks later. She had me when she was older (45) so it was always her dream to live long enough to see me get married. When my boyfriend of 8 years found out she was sick, he immediately asked me to marry him. Humbling experience #1.
We then tried to find a justice of the peace ASAP to officiate the wedding at my parents’ home. There was only one in the small town my parents lived in. She was all booked up but when she heard why we needed to book ASAP she reworked her whole schedule so that she could be there for us (humbling experience #2)
Our family and friends then went out of their way to plan the wedding for us so that I could be with my mom in pallative care. My aunt and uncle drove 5 hours to us, got flowers, candles, a cake, champagne and set up the house for the wedding. Our neighbours took care of our dogs and planned a catered reception for us. My best friend (the only person I really wanted as a brides maid) nearly got fired from her new job in order to get the time off to be there, and she and her boyfriend drove for 6 hours to be there. Everyone was so wonderful, well beyond what I could’ve ever expected or asked for. It was so amazing and heartwarming. (Humbling experience #3)
My mother was able to attend the wedding and it was a very joyous occasion, despite the circumstances. She passed away 3 days later. Even though it wasn’t a traditional wedding, it was perfect because so many people that we loved dropped everything to help fulfill our dreams.” –awkwardmumbles
“In a thread asking what things my children don’t know, I shared that we were struggling financially, that I often lied to them and said I’d already eaten, but I knew the situation was temporary. Reddit users suggested I create an Amazon wish list and sent us food, gifts for the kids, and even a pair of shoes for me to replace the pair I’d been wearing for years. The words of encouragement got me through a very tough time. I’m working now, and while I’m still digging out of lots of student loan and medical debt, last Christmas I was able to pay it forward, by sponsoring a family for Christmas. I’ll never forget the kindness of the people here.” –surpassing_disasters
“I’m not the richest guy in the world. I was in grade 11 and at that point I had been playing the same cheap $150 guitar for 10 years. One day during the year, it was my birthday. My girlfriend at the time had already told me that she couldn’t make it on that day because she had a family thing. I didn’t expect much. Two of my friends finally convinced me to grab dinner with them so we did. We then headed back to one of my friends houses. When I got there, about 20 friends (including my girlfriend) were there. They had thrown me a surprise party. They then pulled out a guitar case. They all put their money together and bought me a $2000 brand new American Fender Telecaster. I don’t think I have ever been so humbled by the kindness of my friends and I will never forget what they did for me.” – Krebsy92
“I was living in another state with my family,my husband and son (I was also pregnant). we hit some hard time. Money was very low and that week we only had 30 dollars for food for the next 4 days. I went to the grocery store and picked out some food (rice, beans, smoked sausage, eggs, etc..). I went to the self service register to check out and it came to 25 dollars. I went to my pocket for my money and it wasn’t there. I turned red in the face with embarrassment and I told the cashier maning the self checkout lanes I must of dropped it so please cancel the order. He didn’t. He paid for it out of his own pocket. I thanked him up and down. I went to my car and cried.” –thepurplefrog
“My uncle gave me $500 when I left for college (he usually gave money to me and my cousins). He was murdered months after, the day one of my older cousins was getting married. She gave EVERYTHING from her wedding that could be useful at the funeral (food, alcohol, sodas). My cousin is poor, by the way.” – mrcolon96
“I was arrested for possession of marijuana in Texas and before I even made a phone call out, a random lady bailed me out and drove me to my car, paid to get my car out of the impound, and let me pay her back like 5 weeks later.” – echo_astral
“In 2004 my father died somewhat suddenly after fighting very aggressive cancer for a month. My family and I witnessed an overwhelming outpouring of kindness and love from our community. The local businesses adopted us for Christmas(dad died in early December), people brought us meals for weeks, and the local funeral director made sure that the services honored dad’s life while making it affordable for an already struggling family. The biggest thing, though, would have to be the hospital bills that my mom never saw. After a month in and out of the ICU and multiple surgeries the bills must have been huge, but someone picked up 90% of them without ever telling our family. We always assumed it was my dad’s boss, but we will possibly never know. There are countless more instances from that first few years, but I cannot begin to name all of them. It is truly amazing to see a small community pull together for a family in their time of need.” –perrydise_livin
“one winter, i spent a saturday with my mom. that evening, she’d bought tickets to a college production of jesus christ, superstar, and invited me to go with her. i wasn’t terribly excited about it, but i know it’s one of her favorite musicals and it would mean a lot to her if i went, so i just sucked it up. we would up having a lovely day together. we were walking back to the car after the show, and were in the middle of talking about something that had happened to her at work. an elderly woman walking in front of us slipped on some ice, fell, and started to kind of cry/moan/wail.
the elderly lady had two people with her (her kids, i found out later). one rushed off to get help, and the other (a man) stayed with his mother. as soon as the woman went down, my mother stopped talking mid-sentence (a difficulty for an italian-american woman who grew up in NJ) and rushed over to help. the man was kind of panicked. he kept kind of loudly asking his mother if anything hurt, what hurts, can you move your arms, your legs, etc. I’m sure he meant well but in his panic he was somewhat aggressive and it was scaring his mother even more.
my mom told the guy sternly but softly to calm down and bent down, in the snow/mush/ice, to talk to the woman. she cracked a few jokes about how she was clumsy and fell all of the time, it could happen to anyone, and how unfortunately her clumsiness seems to have passed on to her daughter (me). in between jokes, she took off her coat and put it over the woman and gently told her to keep still until help arrived. by the time some workers from the theater and security folks came over, the woman was smiling and talking about holiday recipes with my mother. she was laughing and saying how she felt embarrassed everyone made such a fuss over her. an ambulance arrived and after consulting with the EMTs, the woman was standing up and seemed okay. she agreed to go get checked out, and gave my mom back her jacket and thanked her profusely “for keeping her head” better than her own kids. her son tried to give my mother some money for “dry cleaning” (her clothes were wet and muddy from sitting next to the woman) and she told him it wasn’t necessary.
we started to walk away, and she continued our conversation from earlier – like, word for word, picked up with the sentence she’d left off with. it occurred to me that helping someone like that was just second nature to my mom. she didn’t think twice, and it would never have occurred to her to keep walking and let someone else handle it. and not only that, she handled it like a champ, calmed everyone down, and had folks laughing by the time she was through.
not a huge thing in the grand scheme of things, but it really struck me in that moment just how selfless she is. she is constantly doing things both big and small for others without ever expecting anything in return.”-MsSusieDerkins
“My dad took my brother, sister and I out for lunch at a local diner/ice cream shop. About three tables away was a very bedraggled mother with twin infants in carriers and two other small children, and it looked like today was the day for all of them to act up. After I was done eating I went to look at the pinball machine ( a lifelong obsession) and on his way over to collect me, my dad stopped at the counter, paid our bill, and the lady’s as well. He never mentioned it later, and did it in a way that no one other than the cashier would have even known, but I managed to catch it. I know its a very simple act, and it probably wasn’t very expensive, but the fact that he did it without much thought, and not even to use as a kindness lesson to us kids, always stuck with me.” – CigaretteCigarCigar
“I was in the hospital for passing out in class at college. I was 4 hours away from my parents and they couldn’t come to take care of me and I didn’t have a roommate in my dorm. I was pretty much by myself. A nurse drove me all the way back to my dorm. She then went to walmart, bought me soup, crackers, gateraid and a bunch of other things for when you’re sick. She said for me to call her if I needed anything. I didn’t know this woman at all. I almost cried. She saw I had no food or anything and was so kind to me. I will always be thankful for her kindness. She didn’t have to do that at all. She is an angel.” – ThatRedHairedGirl
“I was homeless and walking from Huntsville Alabama to Nashville Tennessee. I had no money, hadn’t eaten or bathed since the previous morning, and I was pretty much exhausted from walking all night. Stopped at a gas station to ask directions and a Jamaican guy who worked there was kind enough to give me a free sandwich. I remember sitting on the curb trying not to cry while eating what remains the best goddamn sandwich I’ve ever eaten.” –blkhatRaven
“When I was 19 and rapidly deteriorating on the waiting list for a liver, and the doctors decided we’d try the last ditch option of living donation. We called my only blood match, my paternal aunt. She agreed to be tested and was a perfect match. She came to my house in late August and told me that she was a match, and she’d set the date for September 30th.
On that day we rolled into surgery together, and 14 hours later I came out. She was in surgery for about 8 hours. I woke up 3 days later in a ton of pain. But I was alive and the liver was working. My aunt was doing great. She went home on day 4. I had another 2 weeks in the hospital and a hotel near the hospital.
That was 5 years ago. I’m doing great, never had a bout of rejection (which is rare and pretty awesome) my aunt says it’s like she never had surgery. I’m now 24, 25 in July. I wouldn’t have seen 20 without my aunt. I wouldn’t have gotten to travel, or have met my soulmate, or adopted 2 cats together. I moved across the country to live with my bf, and we’ve been together for 3 years. Life is very good.” –greffedufois