Following Beyoncé’s powerful performance and Jimmy Kimmel’s opening remarks at the “A Celebration of Life: Remembering Kobe and Gianna Bryant,” the late NBA icon’s wife, Vanessa Bryant took the stage to deliver a heartfelt speech.
Momentarily moved to tears, Vanessa thanked everyone for their outpouring of love and support for her family in the wake of the tragic loss of Kobe and Gigi before she delivered her speech. Gathering herself, Vanessa spoke about her baby girl GiGi first.
“Gianna Bryant is an amazingly sweet and gentle soul. She was always thoughtful,” Vanessa began, adding Gigi always made sure to kiss her good morning and goodnight.
“She knew how much her morning and evening kisses meant to me. She was so thoughtful to kiss me everyday. She was her daddy’s girl but I know she loved her mama. She was one of her mama’s very best friends,” Vanessa continued. “She made the best chocolate cookies. She loved watching cooking shows and Cupcake Wars with me. She loved watching Survivor and NBA games with her daddy. She loved watching Disney movies with her sisters. Gigi was always competitive like her dad but Gianna had a certain grace about her. Her smile was like sunshine. Her smile took up her face like mine. Kobe always said she was me. She had my fire, personality, and sarcasm. She was tender and loving on the inside but she had the best laugh. It was infectious. It was pure and genuine. Kobe and Gianna naturally gravitated towards each other.”
“Gigi was confident but not in an arrogant way….she was very much like her daddy in that they both liked helping others learn new things and master them. They were great teachers. Gigi was very sweet. She always made sure everyone was okay. She was the shepherd.”
After speaking about her daughter, Vanessa shared some words for her late husband Kobe, who she described as her “soulmate.”
“Kobe was known as a fierce competitor on the basketball court, an Oscar winner, a writer and the Black Mamba. But to me, he was Kob Kob... my papi chulo...I couldn’t see him as a celebrity nor as an incredible basketball player,” Vanessa said. “He was my everything. Kobe and I had been together since I was 17 and a half years old. I was his first girlfriend, his wife, his best friend, his protector, his confidant….We balanced each other out.”
Later in her speech, Vanessa reminisced over some of the sweet gestures Kobe made over the years to show her how much she meant to him, revealing he bought her the exact dress that actress Rachel McAdams wore in The Notebook and the notebook itself.
“A couple of weeks before they passed he sent me a sweet text about how he wanted us to just spend time together without the kids,” she shared. “We never got the chance to do it because we were busy taking care of the girls and our daily responsibilities...But I’m thankful I have that recent text.”
“We’re so thankful he left those lessons and stories behind for us,” Vanessa concluded in her final sentiments. [Gigi and Kobe] were so easy to love. Everyone naturally gravitated towards them. They were happy, silly, and loved life. They were so full of joy and adventure. God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. I got Noni, BB and Coco. We’re 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.”
(Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)