Vanessa Bryant held back tears as she gave an emotional tribute to her late husband, Kobe Bryant, 41 and daughter Gianna Bryant, 13, at Staples Center in LA on Monday.
The father and daughter were among 7 others that died in a helicopter crash on the morning of January 26 in Calabasas, California.
Beginning with her “baby girl”, whom Vanessa remembered as sweet, kind, funny, smart, sarcastic, confident, an amazing baker and an athlete.
“Gigi was sunshine,” She brightened up my day every day.”
“We will not be able to see Gigi go to high school with Natalia and ask her how her day went. We didn’t get a chance to teach her how to drive a car. I won’t be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day. I will never get to see my baby girl walk down the aisle, have a father-daughter dance with her daddy, dance on the dance floor with me and have babies of her own. Gianna would have been an amazing mommy. She was very maternal ever since she was really little.”
She continued, “Gigi would’ve most likely become the best player in the WNBA. She would’ve made a huge difference for women’s basketball. Gigi was motivated to change the way everyone viewed women in sports.”
Vanessa then shared just how much of a loving husband and father Kobe was.
“Kobe and I have been together since I was 17-and-a-half years old. I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidant, and his protector. He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. He was the early bird and I was the night owl, I was fire and he was ice, and vice versa at times. We balanced each other out.”
Describing him was a doting father, charismatic, gentlemen and a romantic, Vanessa shared that Kobe gifted her the actual notebook and the blue dress Rachel McAdams wore in “The Notebook” movie. “When I asked him why he chose the blue dress, he said because it was the scene when Allie comes back to Noah.”
When it came to Kobe and Gigi she said he loved being her mentor and Gigi was thoughtful just like her father.
“God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other,” she said while fighting back tears. “He had to bring them home to have them together.
“Babe, you take care of our Gigi. … We’re still the best team. May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again one day.”