Jimmy Kimmel let his emotions flow freely during the celebration of life ceremony on Monday for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
The late night host was the first speaker following an opening performance by Beyonce and a video montage package of Bryant and Gianna’s lives.
“This is a sad day, but it is also a celebration of life – of their lives and of life itself in the building where those of us who are Lakers fans and Kobe fans celebrated so many of the best times of our lives,” Kimmel said, speaking through tears. “I’m honored to have been asked to speak here.”
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“I don’t think any of us could have imagined this,” Kimmel continued. “Everywhere you go, you see his face, his number. Gigi’s face, Gigi’s number. At every intersection. There are hundreds of murals painted by artists who are inspired not because he was a basketball player, but because Kobe was an artist too. And not just in LA, but across the country, in Kobe’s hometown in Philadelphia, in Italy, in India, the Philippines, China, New York…in places where he would be booed on the court, Kobe is missed.”
“Today we are joined by Kobe’s teammates and opponents alike, his friends, his family, and his fans as we try to make sense of what happened to these nine beautiful people who were by all accounts so full of life,” Kimmel said.
“It seems to me that all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them and the time we have left with each other, and that’s all,” he urged everyone.
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Vanessa took the podium to talk about her late husband and daughter after Kimmel’s remarks.
“Gianna Bryant is an amazingly sweet and gentle soul,” Vanessa said. “She was always thoughtful. She always kissed me goodnight and kissed me good morning. There were a few occasions where I was absolutely tired from being up with Bianka and Capri and I thought she had left for school without saying goodbye. I 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. She was so thoughtful to remember to kiss me every day,” she continued. “She was Daddy’s girl but I know she loved her mama. She would always tell me and show me how much she loved me. She was one of my very best friends. She loved faith, she loved putting a smile on everyone’s faces.”