So heartbreaking. At Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant’s memorial, Natalia Bryant was “overcome with emotion” during Michael Jordan’s speech at the Staples Center, an eyewitness told In Touch. “Vanessa [Bryant] put her arm around Natalia and was gently stroking her arm.”
The retired 57-year-old NBA star spoke about his relationship with the late basketball player on Monday, February 24 — almost one month after he and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. “In the game of basketball, in life, as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank. He left it all on the floor,” Michael explained. “Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends. But we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend, he was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe. You know, all of us have brothers, sisters, little brothers, little sisters, who for whatever reason, always tend to get in your stuff, your closet, your shoes, everything. It was a nuisance, if I can say that word.”
Michael concluded his lengthy and emotional speech by saying when Bryant died, “a piece of me died.” He added, “And as I look in this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died or else you wouldn’t be here. Those are the memories that we have to live with, and we learn from. I promise you from this day forward, I will live with the memories that knowing that I had a little brother, that I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace, little brother.”
Of course, “people were overwhelmed” by Michael’s kind words, the insider noted. He, too, was “overcome with emotion” when he talked about the former MVP. “The crowd in the audience said, ‘We love you, Michael!’”
On January 26, Bryant, 41, Gianna, 13, Payton Chester, 13, Alyssa Altobelli, 14, Keri Altobelli, 36, John Altobelli, 57, Christina Mauser, 38, Sarah Chester, 46, and Ara Zobayan, 50, were on the way to Thousand Oaks for basketball practice at Bryant’s Mamba Academy, but unfortunately, they never made it there.
Since then, Vanessa, 37, has been candid about how she has been coping following the devastating tragedy. At the memorial, Bryant spoke about her favorite memories with her late daughter and husband. “I am still so proud of Gianna, and she was kind to everybody she met for the 13 years she was here on earth,” she said. “She was a beautiful, kind, happy, silly, thoughtful and loving sister and daughter. She was so full of life and had so much more to offer this world. I cannot imagine life without her. 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 also gushed about her “soulmate” and husband. “Babe, you take care of our Gigi,” she stated. “I got Nati, BiBi and KoKo, and we’re still the best team. We love and miss you, Boo-Boo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again one day. We love you both and miss you forever and always, Mommy.”
We are thinking of everyone during this time.
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