Vanessa Bryant gave a nearly 20-minute speech in front of a packed house at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to honor the lives of her husband and daughter, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
The widow was introduced by comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who thanked her for inviting the attendees to Kobe and Gianna Bryant's "Celebration of Life."
"She knew we needed it," Kimmel said.
Vanessa Bryant received a standing ovation as she made her way to the stage placed at center court.
Amid tears and deep breaths, as well as encouraging cheers from the crowd, Vanessa Bryant shared intimate details about Kobe and Gianna, as well as their lives as a family of six.
Here are Vanessa Bryant's full remarks:
Thank you. Thank you all so much for being here. It meant so much. Love you too.
First, I’d like to thank everyone for coming today. The outpouring of love and support that my family has felt from around the world has been so uplifting.
Thank you so much for all your prayers. I’d like to talk about both Kobe and Gigi. I’ll talk about my baby girl first.
My baby girl. Gianna Bryant is an amazingly sweet and gentle soul. She was always thoughtful. She always kissed me good night and kissed me good morning.
There were a few occasions when I was absolutely tired from being up with Bianka and Capri, and I thought she had left for school without saying good bye. I’d text and say, "No kiss?" And Gianna would reply with, "Mama, I kissed you, but you were asleep, and I didn’t want to wake you."
She knew how much her morning and evening kisses meant to me, as she was so thoughtful to remember to kiss me every day.
She was daddy’s girl, but I know she loved her mama, as she would always tell me and show me how much she loved me.
She was one of my very best friends. She loved [to] bake. She loved putting a smile on everyone’s face. Last August, she made a beautiful birthday cake for her daddy. It had fondant and looked like it had blue [unintelligible] crystals. Kobe’s birthday cake looked like it was professionally decorated. She made the best chocolate chip cookies. She loved watching cooking shows and "Cupcake Wars" with me, and she loved watching "Survivor" and NBA games on TV with her daddy. She also loved watching Disney movies with her sisters.
Gigi was very competitive like her daddy, but Gianna had a sweet grace about her. Her smile was like sunshine. Her smile took up her entire face, like mine. Kobe always said she was me. She had my fire, my personality and sarcasm. 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 towards each other. She had Kobe’s ability to listen to a song and have all the lyrics memorized after listening to the song a couple of times. It was their secret talent. She was an incredible athlete. She was great at gymnastics, soccer, softball, dance and basketball. She was an incredible dancer too. She loved to swim, dance, do cartwheels and jump into our swimming pool, and Gigi loved her TikTok dances. Gigi was confident, but not in an arrogant way.
She loved helping and teaching other people things. At school, she offered the boys basketball coaches to give the boys some pointers, like the triangle offense. She was very much like her daddy, in that they both liked helping people learn new things and help them master them. They were great teachers.
Gigi was very sweet. She always made sure everyone was OK. She was our shepherd. She always kept our family together. She loved family traditions. Family movie night and game night on vacations were important to her.
Gigi always looked out for everyone. She was very much in tune with our feelings and wanted the best for us. Gianna was smart. She knew how to read, speak and write Mandarin. She knew Spanish. She had great grades and kept them up – all while becoming an incredible basketball player. She was president of school spirit, on student council, she was director’s assistant for her school play, just like her big sister. She was looking forward to graduating eighth grade and moving on to high school with her big sister, Natalia.
I’m so happy she was given the opportunity to know she was accepted to the same high school. She was really happy. Gianna made us all proud, and she still does.
Gianna never tried to conform. She was always herself. She was a nice person, a leader, a teacher, wearing a white tee, black leggings, a denim jacket, white high-top Converse and a flannel tied around her waist with straight hair was a go-to style.
She had so much swag and rhythm ever since she was a baby. She gave the best hugs and the best kisses. She had gorgeous soft lips like her daddy. She would hug me and hold me so tight, I could feel her love me. I loved the way she looked up at me while hugging me. It was as if she was soaking me all in.
We love each other so much. I miss her so much. She was so energetic. I couldn’t keep up with her energy. She lapped Natalia and I on a track once. She was about 6 years old. We let her have a head start. She still dusted us. I miss her sweet kisses. I miss her cleverness. I miss her sarcasm, her wit and that adorable, sly side smile followed with a grin and a burst of laughter.
We shared the same "cat that ate the canary" grin. Gigi was sunshine.
She brightened up my day every day. I miss looking at her beautiful face. She was always so good -- a rule-follower. Anyone could always count on her to do the right thing.
She was the most loving daughter thoughtful little sister and silly big sister. She happily helped carry the littles’ diaper bag or played with them. She liked helping me with Bianka and Capri. Bianka loved going to the playground, swimming and jumping on the trampoline with Gigi. I used to tell Gigi I thought Koko considered her her favorite sister. Capri would smile from ear to ear when Gigi walked into the room, and Capri reminds me a lot of Gianna. They look alike and just smile with their whole face – pure joy.
We will not be able to see Gigi go to high school with Natalia and ask her how her day went. We didn’t get the chance to teach her how to drive a car. I won’t be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day. I’ll never get to see my baby girl walk down the aisle, have a father-daughter dance with her daddy, dance on the dance floor with me or have babies of her own.
Gianna would have been an amazing mommy. She was very maternal, ever since she was really little.
Gigi would have most likely become the best player of the WNBA. She would have made a huge difference [applause] for women’s basketball. Gigi was motivated to change the way everyone viewed women in sports. She wrote papers in school defending women and wrote about how the unequal pay difference for the NBA and the WNBA leagues wasn’t fair, and I truly feel she made positive changes for the WNBA players now, since they knew Gigi’s goal was to eventually play in the WNBA.
I’m still so proud of Gianna. She made a difference and was kind to everyone she met in the 13 years she was here on earth. Her classmates shared many fond memories about Gianna with us, and those stories reminded me that Gianna loved and showed everyone that no act of kindness is too small to make a difference in someone’s life. She was always, always, always considerate of others and their feelings. She was a beautiful, kind happy, silly, thoughtful and loving daughter and sister. She was so full of life, and had so much more to offer this world. I cannot imagine life without her. Mommy, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and Daddy love you so much, Gigi. I will miss your sweet handmade cards, your sweet kisses and your gorgeous smile. I miss you. All of you – every day. I love you.
Okay. Now, for my soulmate.
Kobe was known as a fierce competitor on the basketball court. The greatest of all time, a writer, an Oscar winner and the Black Mamba.
But, to me, he was Koko, my boo boo, my bae boo, my papi chulo. I was his Vivi, his principessa, his reina, his queen mamba …
I couldn’t see him as a celebrity, nor just 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. He was the early bird, and I was the night owl. I was fire, he was ice, and vice versa at times. We balanced each other out.
He would do anything for me. I have no idea how I deserved a man that loved and wanted me more than Kobe. He was charismatic, a gentleman. He was loving, adoring and romantic. He was truly the romantic one in our relationship. I looked forward to Valentine’s Day and our anniversaries every year. He planned special anniversary trips and a special traditional gift for every year of our marriage. He even hand-made my most treasured gifts.
He just thought outside the box and was so thoughtful, even while working hard to be the best athlete. He gave to me the actual notebook and the blue dress Rachel McAdams wore in "The Notebook" movie. When I asked him why he chose the blue dress, he said it was because it’s the scene when Allie comes back to Noah. We had hoped to grow old together, like the movie. We really had an amazing love story.
We love each other with our whole beings. Two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family and raising our sweet and amazing girls. 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’m 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 had always talked about how we’d be the fun grandparents to our daughters’ children. He would have been the coolest grandpa.
Kobe was the MVP of girl dads, or MVD. 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. And when Kobe retired from the NBA, he took over dropping off and picking up our girls from school, since I was at home pregnant with Bianka and, just recently, home nursing Capri.
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 So he showed up one hour and 20 minutes early after that.
He always knew there was room for improvement and wanted to do better. He happily did carpool and enjoyed spending time in the car with our girls. He was a doting father, a father that was hands on and present. He helped me bathe Bianka and Capri almost every night. He would sing them silly songs in the shower and continue making them laugh and smile as he lathered, then lotioned and got them ready for bed. He had magic arms and could put Capri to sleep in only a few minutes. He said he had it down to a science -- eight times up and down our hallway.
He loved taking Bianka to Fashion Island and watch her play in the koi pond area and loved taking her to the park. Their most recent visit to the koi pond was the evening before he and Gigi passed. He shared a love of movies and a breakdown of films with Natalia. He enjoyed renting out theaters and taking Natalia to watch the newest "Star Wars" movie or "Harry Potter" films. They would have movie marathons, and he enjoyed every second of it. He loved your typical tear-jerkers too. He loved watching "Stepmom," "Steel Magnolias" and "Little Women."
He had a tender heart.
Kobe somehow knew where I was at all times, specifically when I was late to his games. He would worry about me if I wasn’t in my seat at the start of each game and would ask security where I was at the first time out of the first quarter. And my smarta-- would tell him that he wasn’t going to drop 81 points within the first 10 minutes of the game.
I think anyone with kids understands that sometimes you can’t make it out the door on time, and eventually he was used to my tardiness and balled out. The fact that he could play on an intense professional level and still be concerned by making sure we made it to the games safely was another example of how family came first to him.
He loved being Gianna’s basketball coach. He told me he wished he would have convinced Natalia to play basketball, so they could have spent even more time together. But, he also wanted her to pursue her own passion. He watched Natalia play in a volleyball tournament on her birthday on Jan. 19, and he noticed how she’s a very intelligent player. He was convinced she would have made a great point guard with her vision of the court, and he told me that he wanted Bianka and Capri to take up basketball when they get older so he could spend just as much time with them as he did with Gigi.
And Kobe always told Bianka and Capri that they were going to grow up and play basketball and "mix they a—up."
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 Koko say "Da-da."
He isn’t going to be here to drop Bianka and Capri off at pre-K and kindergarten. He isn’t going to be here to tell me to, "Get a grip, V" when we have to leave the kindergarten classroom or show up to our daughter’s doctor’s visits for my own morale support.
He isn’t going to be able to walk our girls down the aisle or spin me around on the dance floor while singing "PYT" to me.
But, I want me daughters to know the amazing person, husband and father he was. The kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes. He always liked working and doing projects to improve kids’ lives. He taught us all valuable lessons about life and sports through his NBA career, his books, his show "Detail" and his "Punies" podcast series, and we’re so thankful he left those lessons and stories behind for us.
He was thoughtful and wrote the best love letters and cards, and Gigi had his wonderful ability to express her feelings into paper and make you feel her love through her words. She was thoughtful like him. He was 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. God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to him together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I got Nani, B.B. and Koko. 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 one day.
We love you both and miss you.
Forever and always, Mommy.