Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa has acknowledged Friday night's tribute to Kobe Bryant at Staples Center, posting a touching photo on Instagram designed to underscore both of her recent losses.
Before the Lakers-Trail Blazers game, ESPN reports Bryant was remembered via two video tributes, performances by Usher, Boyz II Men, and cellist Ben Hong, and in a moving speech from LeBron James.
James, who noted he was electing not to read from prepared remarks, said, "Now, I know at some point, we will have a memorial for Kobe, but I look at this as a celebration tonight. This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the getting up, the sitting down, the everything. The countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be. Tonight, we celebrate the kid that came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we've seen over the past three years, man. Tonight is a celebration."
He also read the names of all nine people killed in Sunday's helicopter crash, including Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
The Lakers lost, but the crowd showed overwhelming support for the tributes to Bryant, which included the introduction of the Lakers' starting five as "Kobe Bryant," each wearing Bryant's famous No. 8 or No. 24 shirt.
In fact, every seat at Staples Center was adorned with a Kobe No. 24 shirt, except for one that was a No. 2, in honor of Gianna Bryant's Mamba Academy number.
Vanessa Bryant highlighted that shirt, posting, "There is no #24 without #2." Her hashtags #GirlDaddy, #DaddysGirl, #MyBabies, #OurAngels, and #KobeandGigi hammered the point home.
The Lakers had also honored the Bryants by observing a 24.2-second silence — "24" for Kobe and "2" for Gianna.
Vanessa had previously broken her silence on the tragedy, writing on Instagram, “My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.”
Vanessa also shared at that time, “We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately.”
She stressed that the family is in pain, writing, “There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon.”
Vanessa continued, “I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”
The heartbreaking message continued, “Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality.”
For those who want to help the families of the victims, she wrote, “To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org.”
She ended the message with “Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba #Mambacita #GirlsDad #DaddysGirls #Family ❤️”