The Staples Center, home to the Los Angeles Lakers, was a much more somber venue on February 24th, 2020 when the arena was used to honor one of the team's very own legends. A memorial was held for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna "Gigi" Bryant to celebrate their lives that were taken all too soon. Kobe and Gigi died in a tragic helicopter crash, along with seven others, on January 26th in Calabasas while en route to a youth basketball tournament.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife and the mother to his four children, including 13-year-old Gigi, took the stage to deliver an emotional speech about the "most amazing husband" and their daughter's "sweet grace," as well as her athletic abilities. Vanessa wasn't the only one to get in front of the crowd. Beyoncé performed "XO," which she mentioned was one of Kobe's favorite songs. Shaquille O'Neal drew big laughs with his sweet tribute, while Michael Jordan gave a somber speech that will likely move you to tears yourself.
Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan shared more than just the basketball court: They had a close bond as people, no matter how competitive they got. At the memorial, Jordan spoke to their strong connection.
"Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother. All of us have little brothers, little sisters who for whatever reason always tend to get in your stuff...It was a nuisance, if I can say that word. But that nuisance turned into love over a period of time…"
Like a sibling, Kobe frequently sought Jordan's advice about the sport.
"He used to call me, text me, 11:30, 2:30, 3 o'clock in the morning, talking about post-up moves, footwork, and sometimes the triangle. At first, it was an aggravation, but then it turned into a certain passion."
And at the end of his heart-wrenching speech, Jordan brought things full-circle:
"I promise you from this day forward, I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could."
Kobe Bryant's love of basketball was undeniable and that's something Michael Jordan spoke to in his tribute.
"What Kobe Bryant was to me was the inspiration that someone truly cared about the way either I played the game or the way that he wanted to play the game."
Kobe's dedication helped Jordan better himself, too. Jordan continued, saying,
"He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be. As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be. To do that, you had to put up with the aggravation, the late-night calls, or the dumb questions. I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant that he was just trying to be a better person, a better basketball player."
As someone who, quote, "gave every last ounce of himself to what he was doing," Kobe always challenged Jordan. He shared,
"I admired him because his passion you rarely see, someone who's looking and trying to improve each and every day."
That same mindset, Jordan said, extended beyond the court and into Kobe's roles as a father and husband.
Michael Jordan also referenced the famous "Crying Jordan" meme in his speech at Bryant's memorial. The popular meme of the basketball star's tear-stained face traces all the way back to his 2009 hall of fame induction. And now, as Jordan joked, there may be a new meme in circulation, since he understandably couldn't hold back tears when talking about Kobe.
Between the anecdotes and the tears, there was one big takeaway from Michael Jordan's speech about Kobe Bryant. Jordan encouraged everyone to follow Kobe's lead by living in the moment, saying,
"Kobe never left anything on the court and I think that's what he would want for us to do. No one knows how much time we have. That's why we must live in the moment. We must enjoy the moment."
That same theme also applies beyond sports and into personal relationships. Jordan continued,
"We must reach and see and spend as much time as we can with our families and friends and the people that we absolutely love. To live in the moment means to enjoy each and every one that we come in contact with."
Watch the video to see how Michael Jordan Delivers Moving Speech At Kobe Bryant Memorial
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