#KobeFarewell: Players, fans celebrate Mamba and Gigi on day of memorial

Feb 25, 2020

The public memorial service for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna turned out to be the emotional roller coaster that it was ought to be.

His wife Vanessa, as well as fellow NBA legends Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal were among the thousands who fondly remembered Kobe and Gigi, along with the seven other victims of the helicopter crash last month, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The Celebration of Life event was filled with tears and laughter, as family members, close friends, old foes, and celebrity fans shared stories about the Black Mamba and how he affected their lives one way or another. Attendees included NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Laker legends Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Magic Johnson, not to mention current players like Stephen Curry.

Shaq, who won a three-peat with Bryant in LA, probably had the most Kobe-esque anecdote: “The day Kobe gained my respect, the guys were complaining, said ‘Shaq, Kobe’s not passing the ball.’ I said ‘I’ll talk to him.’ I said ‘Kobe. There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team.’’ Kobe said, ‘I know, but there’s an ‘M-E’ in there mother f---er.’”

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Outside Staples, tributes overflowed for the five-time champion:

Bradley Beal

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The Washington Wizards shooting guard became the first player to score 50+ points in two straight nights since Bryant in 2007. Beal had career-high 53 markers and five three-pointers against Chicago on Sunday, and followed it up with another personal-best 55 points and eight threes versus Milwaukee.

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Unfortunately, the rest of the team sucks and they lost both games.

Sabrina Ionescu

Hours after speaking at the memorial, the Oregon Ducks point guard made NCAA Division I history as the first player with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. She devoted the feat to her close friend Kobe, saying, "That one was for him," while also tallying her 26th career triple-double in a win over Stanford.

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Let there be light

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    Life in the fast lane

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    Alex Rodriguez

    The basesball great attended the service with his fiancee Jennifer Lopez, but his Twitter video on Bryant may have been a better tribute. A-Rod wrote, "Kobe was greatness. As a basketball player, as a businessman, as a filmmaker and most importantly, as a Dad. Greatness, always. I think about him everyday & miss him alway."

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    At the end of the day, though, the Swoosh brand — the company that the Mamba worked with for most of his life — may have had the simplest yet best one.

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