Vanessa Bryant pays emotional tribute to Kobe: ‘Family came first to him’
Vanessa Bryant called her husband, Kobe Bryant, the “MVP of girl dads” in her first public comments since the basketball star’s death.
“The outpouring of love and support that my family has felt from around the world has been so uplifting,” Vanessa Bryant told the audience of more than 20,000 fans at a memorial service at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday.
The 41-year-old former Los Angeles Laker and his teenage daughter Gianna Bryant were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., last month. Seven other people also died in the wreck.
In her eulogy, Vanessa Bryant said she wants her three surviving daughters to know “the amazing person, husband and father” the basketball legend was.
“Family came first to him,” she said, recalling how her husband would check in with security when she would arrive late to his NBA games.
Kobe Bryant, his widow said, was “the kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes.”
Through his NBA career and books, Kobe Bryant “taught us all valuable lessons about life and sports.”
Vanessa Bryant remembers Kobe: “Babe, take care of our Gigi. And I got Nani, Bibi and Coco. We’re still the best team.”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 24, 2020
Vanessa Bryant also delivered an emotional tribute to her 13-year-old daughter.
Gianna Bryant, a standout athlete, “most likely would’ve become the best player in the WNBA,” Vanessa Bryant said through tears. “She would’ve made a huge difference for women’s basketball.”
Recalling how her daughter wrote school papers on the gender wage gap between the NBA and WNBA, Vanessa Bryant said, “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.”
Proceeds from the star-studded memorial service are poised to be donated to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, Bryant’s charitable organization.