It was an incredibly emotional day at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The memorial service for NBA superstar, Kobe Bryant, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna (Gigi) took place with many celebrities including Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Jimmy Kimmel paying respects as an arena full of fans mourned collectively. 

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, though, after Kobe’s widow, Vanessa, took the stage. After being introduced by Kimmel, she thanked fans for their support and the outpouring of love. Joined by her surviving daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and 7-month-old Capri, the matriarch did her best to hold it together and eulogize her lost loved ones. 

She began by remembering her “baby girl,” Gianna, who she described as a “sweet and gentle soul” who was equally fierce, energetic and talented with a bright basketball career in her future. “Gigi was sunshine,” the grieving mother said. “She brightened up my day every day.”

When her words turned to her “soulmate” Kobe, she shared that he was a romantic with a “tender heart” who once gifted her items from the movie The Notebook. “He was thoughtful,” she added. “…And wrote the best love letters and cards.”

“Family came first to him,” Vanessa explained. “Kobe was the MVP of girl dads, or MVD. He never left the toilet seat up. He always told the girls how beautiful and smart they are. He taught them how to be brave.” She also expressed sadness about how this changes their whole family’s life forever.

“We will not be able to see Gianna go to high school with Natalia … we didn’t get the chance to teach her how to drive a car,” said Vanessa. “I won’t be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day. I’ll never get to see my baby girl walk down the aisle, have a father-daughter dance with her daddy … or have babies of her own.”

Of the tragedy of losing them both on the same day, Vanessa Bryant said, “They were so easy to love. Everyone naturally gravitated toward them. They were funny, happy, silly and they loved life. God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. .. we’re still the best team.”

Kobe and Gianna Bryant were killed on January 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash along with eight others. The investigation is still ongoing, but we know that it was very foggy that day and that pilot, Ara Zobayan, who also lost his life that day, has been criticized for his decision to fly through those conditions.

Vanessa Bryant has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court against Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp. and Island Express Helicopters. The complaint alleges that Zobayan failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was negligent.