On February 24, thousands of mourners gathered at Los Angeles’s Staples Center to celebrate the lives of Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter, Gianna Bryant, 13. Both died on January 26 in a tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of seven others: Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan.
The memorial started out with Beyoncè as she took the stage in a gold suit and sang a moving rendition of her ballad “XO” from her 2013 self-titled album.
“I’m here because I love Kobe and this was one of his favorite songs,” she said before the performance. “So I want to start that over ’cause I want us to do it all together, and I want us to sing it so loud that he’ll hear our love.”
She followed up with 2008’s “Halo” before Jimmy Kimmel, a friend of the Bryant family’s, took over with tearful words of his own. He then introduced the ceremony’s first speaker, Bryant’s wife of 19 years, Vanessa Bryant. They share three other daughters: Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.
She reflected on Gianna’s kindness, unmatched talent, and the love she shared with Kobe. She also revealed that out of many thoughtful gifts over the years, he’d once gifted her the exact notebook and Allie’s dress from The Notebook.
“She was daddy’s girl but I know she loved her mama and she would always tell me and show me how much she loved me,” Bryant said of Gianna.
And when speaking of Kobe: “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.”
She concluded, “God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other. God knew that he had to bring them together.”
Celebrity guests in attendance included Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez; Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade; Ayesha and Steph Curry; Kim Kardashian and Kanye West; Michael Phelps; and Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson among others. In addition, Alicia Keys took the stage to perform Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano, and Christina Aguilera sang “Ave Maria.”
You can watch the memorial below. Beyoncè’s performance begins about the 30 minute mark.
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