On Monday, Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa braved the stage at his public memorial at Staples Center.
While many big names praised Vanessa for her heartbreaking speech about Kobe and their daughter Gianna, her decision to address the public wasn’t certain until the start of the memorial.
A source told “E! News,” “Vanessa Bryant’s speech was always tentative until the very last minute.”
Before Jimmy Kimmel introduced her, Bryant reportedly gave him a “signal” that she was ready.
“She, of course, was prepared with her speech either way, but keeping her tentative was a matter of how emotional she was and how comfortable she felt in that moment to make the speech,” the insider emphasized. “Nobody knew if she was going to do it until [Jimmy] actually announced her.”
Another source noted that Vanessa poured her heart and soul into her memorialization, telling People magazine, “She spent a lot of time on that, to say the exact right thing. It took everything she had.”
During her address, Vanessa teared up while reflecting on the milestones they would miss after Gigi’s death. “We will not see Gigi go to high school... 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 can’t imagine life without her,” she said.
Vanessa then reminisced about her “soul mate” Kobe, who she described as a romantic who loved anniversaries and Valentine’s Day.
“He was my sweet husband and the father of my beautiful children… He was my everything… I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidante, and his protector,” Vanessa said. “He was the early bird and I was the night owl. He was fire and I was ice — and vice versa sometimes.”
A heartbroken Bryant ended by saying, “God knew [Kobe and Gianna] couldn’t be on this Earth without each other… Babe, you take care of Gigi… May you both rest in peace.”
After the public memorial, Vanessa attended a private reception in the Lexus Club and San Manuel Club at Staples Center, where Kobe had played for most of his 20-year career with the Lakers. A source noted that everyone with floor seating was also invited.