At Kobe and Gigi Bryant’s memorial service on Monday, fans and celebrities gathered to honor the fallen Mamba and Mambacita. With beautiful tributes from several loved ones, including Kobe’s wife and Gigi’s mother, Vanessa, tears were shed and memories were reminisced. One speech however, included honoring a few people in Kobe’s life that have rarely been mentioned since the tragic deaths. While delivering his eulogy for Kobe and Gigi, Shaquille O’Neal acknowledged Kobe Bryant’s parents and sisters, leading to several people praising the former basketball player for the recognition.
Kobe’s parents, Pam and Joe Bryant, as well as his sisters, Sharia and Shaya, did have a complicated relationship with their late son and brother. Though they without a doubt loved one another, Joe and Pam did not exactly approve of Kobe and Vanessa’s relationship, and they even refused to attend the pairs wedding in 2003. However, O’Neal decided that it was appropriate to send them some love in his speech, being that they too lost their loved one in the tragic helicopter accident that took both Kobe and Gigi on January 26th.
O’Neal paid homage by saying, “To Vanessa and the kids, Kobe’s parents, sisters and the families who lost a loved one on that tragic day, we grieve with you…All of us were forever changed on January 26th.”
Many fans took to Twitter to express their gratitude and approval of O’Neal’s acknowledgement.
One user wrote, “It’s nice that Shaq also acknowledge Kobe’s parents and siblings. #KobeFarewell”, while another posted, “Thanks to @SHAQ for acknowledging the parents without parent we have no Kobe #KobeFarewell”.
In another tweet, one person asked, “Does anyone know if @kobebryant’s parents and siblings were at today’s memorial service? Greg @AfricanaCarr says no one even acknowledged them and their grief. I was on a plane from LA and missed all of it. Please pray for their healing too!”
Another user wrote back saying, “They were there. Shaq is the only one who acknowledged them. Everyone spoke about #kobe as an adult. No mention of his childhood or pictures of him as a kid with his parents and sisters. It was like he hatched from an egg at 18 in the NBA.”
During his speech, O’Neal also made a pledge to his dear friend, promising to look after Vanessa and his remaining daughters.
“Mamba, you were taken away from us way too soon. Your next chapter of life was just beginning. But now it’s time for us to continue your legacy. You said yourself that everything negative, pressure, challenges is all opportunity for me to rise. So now take the sage advice and now rise from anguish and begin with the healing,” he said. “Just know that we got your back, little brother, I’ll look after things down here, I’ll be sure to teach Natalia, Bianka and baby Capri all your moves.