February 24, 2020 — I have avoided writing this post since the news was released on January 26, 2020. About a month has passed since Kobe & Gigi have left their loved ones, and not a day goes by where they are not remembered.
Today 2/24/20 Kobe and Gigi’s memorial commenced in Staples Center Arena in Los Angeles, California. Beyonce opened the ceremony with Kobe’s favorite song, “XO”, and closed her tribute with “Halo”. Jimmy Kimmel cried through his opening statement as the camera panned over the countless athletes who flew to LA to celebrate the lives lost. Celebrate: the main word used throughout their memorial. Gratitude. Another word frequently repeated. We should cherish in our lives. Grateful to live another day and spend time with those whom we love.
Following Kimmel, Vanessa Bryant read a 20 minute tribute about her soulmate and lost daughter. She joked about her and Gigi’s similarities, her passions in life and how she was destined to do amazing things in the WNBA.
Kobe was 21 years old when he met Vanessa, who was 17 and-a-half. Once she turned 18, Kobe proposed. 6 months together, and he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Although the two filed for divorce in 2011, they reconciled, and called it off in 2013. (Kapusta, Michelle – cheatsheet.com)
Kobe and Vanessa built a team of their own together with their four daughters Natalia, Gigi, Bianka and Capri. He filled their hearts and heads with love and motivation. After Kobe’s passing an interview released between Elle Duncan and Kobe calling himself a #GirlDad. Definitely one of my favorite interviews from him.
“God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together.”Vanessa Bryant at Kobe’s memorial
The list of legends who spoke of Kobe following Vanessa Bryant were filled with emotion. Diana Taurasi, named the “White Mamba,” by Kobe spoke on their relationship. Sabrina Ionscu spoke of their training sessions together. Gino Oriama, the head coach of the UCONN women’s basketball team spoke about fatherhood. Michael Jordan sobbed through his speech and said, “when Kobe died, a part of me died.” Shaq spoke about how the duo created something together they could never separate from.
The list goes on and on, but one thing stayed true: the impact Kobe Bryant had on others extended much further than basketball.
He wanted to create change for women in sports. He wanted to help whomever he could achieve their dreams, granted they put in the work. Kobe was a character all his own.
Above is just a small collection of Kobe’s most memorable moments in the NBA. The deaths are still shocking to me and to the world. Kobe was my favorite, athlete in the past, as he was to thousands, if not millions of sports fans. He was driven, strong, smart and created a concept that will be carried through until the end of time. #MAMBAMENTALITY. He stirred up my love for basketball simply because his energy on the court was unmatchable, and untouchable. I could go on about how electric it was to watch Kobe Bryant, but it hurts too much.
My heart hurts for Gigi and the others lost on that flight, and I hope we all remember that our days on this Earth are what we make of them. For a community to pine over someone we’ve never met shows how strong of an impact Kobe had on our lives. He grew into a Super Dad and had so many goals to help women in sports. That’s what hurts me the most.
To end this I simply want to thank Kobe Bryant for all he did for the NBA as a player, did for women in sports and his family. This ache we feel will eventually lighten, but will never disappear.