Friends, family and fellow athletes have paid tribute to NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and eight others, including his daughter Gianna, at a memorial service in Los Angeles.
The ceremony took place at a packed Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, the team Bryant was a part of for his entire 20-year NBA career. Bryant and the other victims were killed in January when their helicopter crashed into a California hillside in foggy conditions.
The ceremony opened with a performance from Beyonce, before Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, paid tribute to her husband and 13-year-old daughter. She was given a standing ovation by thousands in the crowd and a host of NBA legends including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Celebrities such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez were also in attendance.
Vanessa Bryant thanked the crowd and fans around the world for their condolences, which she said had helped her and her family deal with their grief. She then paid tribute to her ‘perfect husband’ whom she said was ‘the MVP of girl dads.’ She then spoke about Gianna, whom she believed had the potential to match Kobe as an international basketball star.
Michael Jordan, widely acknowledged as the greatest NBA player of all time, was in tears as he spoke of his relationship with Bryant. “When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died,” he said.
The service was rounded up by a performance from Christina Aguilera, who sang Ave Maria.
Kobe Bryant is survived by his parents, Vanessa and his three other daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri. On Monday, it was also announced that Vanessa has filed a lawsuit against the company that owned the helicopter in which Kobe, Gianna and the other victims were killed.