Thousands gathered at the Staples Center to honor the life and death of Kobe Bryant on Monday for the legendary basketball player. Beyoncé opened the service with an incredible tribute to Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, and Jimmy Kimmel was the first to give a speech. He started out by honoring all of the lives lost in the helicopter crash.
I want to thank everyone for being here and thank you for gathering to celebrate the lives of Alyssa Altobelli; her parents, John and Keri Altobelli; Peyton Chester; her mother, Sarah Chester; Christina Mauser; Ara Zobayan; Gigi Bryant; and her father, Kobe Bryant.”
He continued, acknowledging the sadness of the occasion while also focusing on celebrating the lives of those who died.
“This is a sad say, but it 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.”
“I’m honored to have been asked to speak here. The proceeds from the tickets you bought go directly to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports in underserved communities. I also encourage you to mambaonthree.org to give to the MambaOnThree Fund, which was created to honor and provide financial support to the Chester, Altobelli, Zobayan and Mauser families. I can only imagine how painful this is for them. I don’t think any of us could have imagined this.
Everywhere you go, you see his face, his number; Gigi’s face, Gigi’s number. Everywhere, at every intersection.”
Jimmy Kimmel pays tearful tribute to Kobe Bryant and the families of those who died in last month's crash: "Everywhere you go, you see his face, his number – Gigi's face, Gigi's number." #KobeFarewell https://t.co/ww51ZxTqzn pic.twitter.com/PJgo5IgBsd
— Variety (@Variety) February 24, 2020
One of the major things that has come with Bryant‘s passing was reminding people of #24’s unique ability to unite people and inspire them to be their best selves.
“There are hundreds of murals painted bv artists who were inspired, not because he was a basketball player but because Kobe was an artist too. And not just in L.A.; across the country, in Kobe’s hometown, Philadelphia. In Italy. In India. The Philippines. China. New York. Phoenix. Austin, for God’s sake. In places where he would be booed on the court, Kobe is missed. Even the great Boston Celtic Bill Russell wore No. 24 and a Lakers jersey to yesterday’s game. I knew he would come to us eventually.
Today we’re 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; who left behind parents, friends, co-workers, classmates, siblings and children.”
Kimmel tearfully ended his speech with a message of gratitude and peace.
“I’ve been trying to come up with something positive to take away from this and it was hard, because there isn’t much. But the best thing I think I was able to come up with is this: gratitude. It seems to me that all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them and for the time that we have left with each other. And that’s all.
In the Catholic church — which the Bryant family is part of — at mass, we share the sign of peace; this is a moment to hug or shake hands with the people around you, and it occurred to me that that is something that only seems to happen at church and at sporting events, when perfect strangers who love the same team are suddenly hugging and high-fiving and celebrating together. So, since we are here today to celebrate, I’d like to invite you, right now, to take a moment to say hello to the people around you, whether you know them or not, to be grateful for life and for the fact that we are all here together.”