Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were honored with a celebration of life ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, but he was also remembered across the country in his hometown of Philly.
Bryant starred at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia after moving there from Italy at age 13. Like everyone in the city, Bryant had his favorite cheesesteak spot. His pick was Larry’s Steaks.
On Monday, the owner decided to dedicate a corner booth to Kobe and Gianna. He decorated the walls around it with images of them, and lit candles on the table to honor their memory.
“It’s sad because he died very young,” owner Tony Elebah told CBS Philly. “We’re gonna miss him, seriously. My kids cry really so hard for him because they know him like a very close person to us and we’re going to miss shipping the cheesesteak to Los Angeles.”
— Bob Brooks (@BobBrooks6abc) February 24, 2020
The celebration in L.A. was full of emotional moments — from Beyonce’s opening performance to Jimmy Kimmel’s touching words — but none more so than when Bryant’s wife Vanessa took the stage.
“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.”
The strength of Vanessa Bryant, to get up there in front of a sold out Staples Center & talk about this tragedy, it’s out of this world. Prayers out to this woman & the entire family.
We miss you Kobe & GiGi 💜💛
— Sterling Mclymont (@Sterl_Report) February 24, 2020
Vanessa also talked about Gianna’s aspirations to follow in Kobe’s footsteps and become a great pro basketball player.
“Gigi likely would have become the best player in the WNBA,” Vanessa added. “She would have made a huge difference in women’s basketball.
“I cannot imagine life without her. Mommy, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and Daddy love you so much, Gigi. I will miss your sweet handmade cards, your sweet kisses and your gorgeous smile. I miss you, all of you, every day. I love you.”
Vanessa then talked about her husband.
“I couldn’t see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player,” she said. “He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children. He was my — he was my everything.”