A Celebration of Life: Remembering Kobe and Gianna Bryant

BET Remembers Kobe Bryant.

A Celebration of Life: Remembering Kobe and Gianna Bryant

BET celebrates the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant with coverage of the public memorial service and updates from inside the Staples Center.

Saying A Final Goodbye to Kobe and Gianna

1:07 PT/4:07 PM:

Walking outside with the masses of people leaving the Kobe and Gianna Bryant tribute at the Staples Center, I can say that this was a beautiful tribute, a necessary tribute. It is as if we not only lost a great athlete, but a an incredible leader, maybe even Black royalty. The outpouring has been that massive and sincere from so many. It feels like this is what America should be, all these different types of people coming together for something and someone we collectively believe in, despite whatever differences we may have.

If there's one thing people will leave from this celebration today knowing it is to not take people and life for granted. It's what Kobe believed in and may be his final message to us all. 

 Kevin Powell, author of 14 books, activist, writer of the upcoming Tupac Shakur biography

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Shaquille O'Neal speaks about his friend, Kobe Bryant
Shaquille O'Neal speaks about his friend, Kobe Bryant
Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Shaquille O'Neal Remember His Friend 

12:26 PT/3:26 PM:

The grief covers Shaq's seven foot three hundred pound frame. You can just feel the sadness spilling from every part of his being. 

Shaq compares the relationship he had with Kobe to the partnership between The Beatles' John Lennon and Paul McCartney. 

 Kevin Powell, author of 14 books, activist, writer of the upcoming Tupac Shakur biography

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Kobe Bryant's Lakers jerseys are displayed during the "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant" service
Kobe Bryant's Lakers jerseys are displayed during the "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant" service
Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

NBA Legend Michael Jordan Remebers His Mentee

12:03 PT/3:03 PM:

A loud roar goes up as Michael Jordan, Kobe's boyhood idol, takes to the podium speakking of their friendship. Between tears streaming down his face, Jordan talked about the constant comparisons between Kobe and himself as players, but he wanted to just talk about the love their shared as big brother to little brother. 

"He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be and as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be," said Jordan. 

The two really had more than just a friendship, but a brotherhood. Jordan said they talked about everything, the game, parenting and just life.

The crowd broke into laughter as Jordan remarked that only Kobe could make him into yet another crying meme. 

The rest of Jordan's speech including moments remembering late night text messages from Kobe and how he inspired Jordan as a parent and now as a new grandparent.

"I can't wait to get home and become a #girldad and hug them and see the love and smiles they bring to us as parents," said Jordan. These are the things that we will continue to love in Kobe Bryant."

Jordan reminded the crowd to live in the moment and enjoy each day remarking that when Kobe died, a piece of him died as well. It's the memories that he will hold on to that will take him forward and propell him to do better. 

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Michael Jordan speaks about his relationship with Kobe
Michael Jordan speaks about his relationship with Kobe
Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Kobe's Best Friend, Rob Pelinka Remembers Him As A Father 

11:53 PT/2:53 PM:

Kobe Bryant's former agent and Gianna's godfather Rob Pelinka took to the podium at the "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant" service at Staples Center where he spoke about his best friend as an NBA player, a father and husband to Vanessa for the last 20 years.

He spoke about Kobe's last act... which was texting Pelinka from the helicopter asking for help for an internship for a young girl of high character. That girl was also on the helicopter. Kobe's last texts were trying to help others, trying to help empower a girl along her path to womanhood

"Kobe lived to make other lives better, all the way up to his final texts," said Pelinka. 

He ended his speech expressibg his love for Kobe, Gigi and the rest of the Bryant family. 

— Kevin Powell, author of 14 books, activist, writer of the upcoming Tupac Shakur biography

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Read Parts of Vanessa Bryant's Emotional Speech 

11:45 PT/2:45 PM:

Following 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 next where she delivered a heartfelt speech written from the depths of her heart. 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 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 gravitate 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.” 

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Alicia Keys performs one of Kobe Bryant's favorite songs
Alicia Keys performs one of Kobe Bryant's favorite songs
Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

A Room Full of Stars To Honor One Of Their Own

11:40 PT/2:40 PM:

Right now in the room are a number of sports luminaries and celebrities including Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Diana Taurasi, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, LL Cool J, Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Gregg Popovich, Magic Johnson, Cookie Johnson, Steph Curry, Jimmy Kimmel, and many others. 

— Kevin Powell, author of 14 books, activist, writer of the upcoming Tupac Shakur biography

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Vanessa Bryant Talks About Her 'Soulmate' 

11:00 PT/2:00 PM:

Vanessa Bryant spoke about the amazing love story she shared with her husband, Kobe Bryant during the memorial service in his honor at the Staples Center. 

She talked about their love affrair which started when the two were still in high school. Vanessa revealed that Kobe wanted them to renew their vows and how her husband was the "MVP of #GirlDads" teaching his daughters how to push forward and always be brave. He actually wanted their oldest, Natalia to take over his company. 

Vanessa spoke about Kobe always showing up for his daughters, happily doing carpool when Vanessa was pregnant with their last baby. He was a hands on dad who enjoyed doing the little things with his girls like bath time, taking them to the park and watching movies with them. 

As his wife, Vanessa recounted all the times she supported him at his games with Kobe always aware when she and the girls were late. 

"Kobe always told Bianca and Capri that they would grow up and play basketball. Now they wont have their daddy and sister here to teach them," said Vanessa. 

"God knew Kobe and Gianna could not be on this earth without each other. Kobe, take care of Gigi, and I got the other girls. We are still the best team."

She concluded her remarks by saying,"God rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again, love Mommy."

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Vanessa Bryant's tearful remarks at "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant"
 Vanessa Bryant's tearful remarks at "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant"
Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Vanessa Bryant Thanks Fans for Support From Around The World

10:53 PT/1:53 PM:

Vanessa Bryant took the podium at the Kobe and Gianna Bryant memorial at the Staples Center. First she spoke as a mother about her, "baby girl," Gianna telling a story about how thoughtful the 13 year old. "She was daddy's girl, but I know she loved her mama," said Vanessa who described her daughter as somoene who loved to bake and was a tender loving soul. 

Just about everyone in the room was in tears hearing Vanessa speak about her atheltic daughter. Gogi was confident but not in an arrogant way," said Vanessa who talked about her daughter helping the boys at school improve their game on the court. 

Gianna was also a bright young lady. Her mother spoke about her favorite subjects and how much she was looking forward to moving on to high school. Telling stories of Gianna's wit, smile, and loving personality, Vanessa Bryant's amazingly kept her composure as she continued to read from a prepared statement about Gianna's dedication and love to her sisters. 

It wasn't until she began talking about the lost future of her daughter Gianna where Vanessa began to cry. The lost times of going to prom, having a wedding, and becoming a mother. The impact she could have made as a member of the WNBA and women's basketball.

"Gigi was motivated to change the way everyone viewed women in sports," said Vanessa.

"Gianna was so full of life and I cannot imagine my life without her."  

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Beyoncé Opens Celebration Memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant 

10:36 PT/1:36 PM:

Beyoncé dressed in a gold suit and backed by a full choir dressed all in white is the first performer to open the celebration for Kobe and Gianna Bryant with her hit songs, "XO" followed by "Halo."

She is singing "because I love Kobe."

The entire Staples Center stands on their feet and sings along with her in unison. The entire focus is on remembering Kobe and Gianna as the camera pans to Kobe's wife Vanessa crying. 

Beyoncé chose "XO" because it was one of Kobe's favorite songs. Some of the lyrics include:

"In the darkest night hour (in the darkest night hour) 

I'll search through the crowd (I'll search through the crowd) 

Your face is all that I see 

I'll give you everything..."

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Vanessa Bryant And Family Arrives At Staples Center

10:31 PT/1:31 PM:

Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa and their children have just arrived to the Staples Center to standing ovation. 

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Fans Wipe Away Tears as Videos Celebrating Kobe and Gianna Play

10:15 PT/1:15 PM:

Approximately 20,000 people have gathered inside the Staples Center to celebrate the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant. A video tribute begins the memorial reflecting on Kobe’s life and career. Quotes from Bryant are woven throughout. Video ends with the words KOBE FOREVER.

A video about Kobe and Gianna playing one on one sparks an emotional response from the crowd. Woman next to me wipes away tears from her eyes.

Kevin Powell, author of 14 books, activist, writer of the upcoming Tupac Shakur biography

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Author And Activist Marc Lamont Hill on Losing Childhood Friend, Kobe Bryant

“Kobe Bryant is not only one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen, but also an extraordinary father, husband, entrepreneur and humanitarian,” said Marc Lamont Hill. “Although I’m deeply pained by the loss of my childhood friend, I’m honored to be part of BET’s coverage of his memorial. Through our tears, we plan to bring Kobe home in a way that shows our deep love and admiration.”

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Sports Journlaist Jemele Hill On Kobe Bryant's Legacy

“I watched Kobe as a journalist and fan for years, before I got to know him on a personal level,” said Jemele Hill of Bryant  “He was one of the most driven athletes in the history of professional sports. He wasn’t just trying to be a better player, but a better student, a better friend, a better teammate, a better husband and a better father.”

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Fans Gather Outside Staples Center for Kobe Bryant Memorial

9:15 PT/12:15 PM

Veteran journalist and author Kevin Powell is reporting live from the Staples Center for BET.

Long lines of people wait to enter the Staple Center, many of them wearing purple and gold colors of the Los Angeles Lakes, Kobe Bryant’s only basketball team of 20 years. 

Vendors are out selling Kobe Bryant t-shirts and posters in and around the Staples Center.

The NBA legend wore two numbers during his career, 8 and 24, so it is fitting this celebration of his life is on the 24th of February. His daughter, Gianna, also called, Gigi wore number 2, so 2/24, today, honors them both.

— Kevin Powell, author of 14 books, activist, writer of the upcoming Tupac Shakur biography

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BET NETWORKS TO HONOR NBA LEGEND KOBE BRYANT

WITH MULTIPLATFORM PROGRAMMING LINEUP

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24

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"A Celebration of Life: Remembering Kobe and Gianna Bryant" - BET will air live, commercial-free coverage of Kobe Bryant's Memorial Service - Anchored by Marc Lamont Hill and Co-host Jemele Hill

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BET will Air ViacomCBS Sister Brand SHOWTIME Documentary "Kobe Bryant's Muse"

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BET and ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT Present "Kobe: Father, Husband, Legend"

#ForKobeAndGigi

NEW YORK, February 24, 2020 – Today BET Networks announced plans to pay tribute to the iconic five-time NBA champion and Academy Award-winning producer Kobe Bryant with content specials across their linear, digital and streaming platforms Monday, February 24, 2020, beginning at 1/12c.  

The programming lineup will include:

 "A Celebration of Life: Remembering Kobe and Gianna Bryant": BET will air LIVE uninterrupted coverage of Bryant's public memorial service held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, anchored by author and activist Marc Lamont Hill and sports journalist Jemele Hill. Coverage will begin at 1/12c on BET, and viewers can stream it across @BET on Twitter and Facebook as well as youtube.com/BETNetworks.

"Kobe Bryant is not only one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen, but also an extraordinary father, husband, entrepreneur and humanitarian. Although I'm deeply pained by the loss of my childhood friend, I'm honored to be part of BET's coverage of his memorial. Through our tears, we plan to bring Kobe home in a way that shows our deep love and admiration." – Marc Lamont Hill

"I watched Kobe as a journalist and fan for years, before I got to know him on a personal level. He was one of the most driven athletes in the history of professional sports. He wasn't just trying to be a better player, but a better student, a better friend, a better teammate, a better husband and a better father." – Jemele Hill

"Kobe Bryant's Muse": This documentary looks beyond mere stats to reveal Kobe Bryant's career, exploring the mentorships, friendships and competitors that helped shape his iconic 18-year tenure in the NBA, and discovering his greatest personal test yet. With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Joe Bryant. This will air on BET at 4/3c.

 BET & Entertainment Tonight Present: "Kobe: Father, Husband, Legend"This inspiring look at Kobe Bryant's life off the court features rare footage and reflections from Kobe's friends and former teammates, including Rihanna, LL Cool J, Chris Paul, Shaquille O'Neal, Matt Barnes, Alex Rodriguez and many others. This will air on BET at 6/5c; it will be released on BET+ March 12, 2020.

"I am grateful that the BET family had the opportunity to give Kobe his flowers while he was still with us, and we will continue to do so, as his legacy very greatly impacted ours," said Scott Mills, President, BET Networks. "From recognizing his tenth consecutive NBA All-Star championship on '106th & Park' in 2008 to presenting him with the BET Humanitarian Award in 2002 and learning about what shapes his #MambaMentality during Genius Talks at BET Experience 2015, I'm so glad we were and continue to be able to celebrate him as the leader and legend he was to us all. Our prayers are with the Bryant family during this difficult time."

For up-to-the-minute details on Kobe Bryant's memorial services, including video and editorial content, please visit BET.com and follow @BET & @BETNews for the latest developments.

About BET Networks

BET Networks, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel is in 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American woman; BET Music Networks - BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET's growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET Networks around the globe.

About Entertainment Tonight

ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT is a multi-platform entertainment news brand, with a cross-screen portfolio that includes the #1 entertainment newsmagazine on television with nearly 5 million viewers daily, the 24/7 streaming network ET Live and a top entertainment news network online, delivering more than 150 million video views per month. ETonline.com averages 20 million monthly unique visitors in the U.S. per comScore, while ET's social audience reaches more than 70 million U.S. users monthly.

Produced and distributed by CBS Television Distribution, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT is hosted by Kevin Frazier with Erin Johnson serving as Executive Producer. Nischelle Turner, Keltie Knight, Lauren Zima, Rachel Smith and Matt Cohen are correspondents.

Written by BET Staff

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