The Los Angeles Staples Center stadium was filled with more than 20,000 mourners on Monday, as friends, family and fans came to remember basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were killed along with seven others in a helicopter crash last month. #KobeBryant #KobeBryantMemorial
The memorial began Monday with a performance by Beyonce, and was hosted by late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.
A number of speakers took to the stage including Kobe’s widow Vanessa, his friend, basketball player Diana Taurasi and his ‘big brother’ Michael Jordan.
Bryant’s widow remembered him as a devoted father and husband who arrived early for school pickups and wrote heartfelt cards and letters.
“He always told the girls how beautiful and smart they are, he taught them how to be brave and how to keep pushing forward when things get tough”, she said.
The ceremony also included musical numbers by Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera, and concluded with a screening of “Dear Basketball,” Bryant’s Academy Award-winning short film about reluctantly saying goodbye to his passion upon his retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016.
Fans, many wearing Bryant’s jersey or team colors, filled the seats at the arena where Bryant played for the final 17 seasons of a two-decade NBA career spent entirely with Los Angeles’ most popular sports franchise.
Money from ticket sales at the sold-out memorial will be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programs in under-served communities and teaches sports to girls and women.
Hours before the service, Vanessa Bryant sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in the fog.
The wrongful-death lawsuit claimed that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions.
The National Transportation Safety Board has not concluded what caused the crash on the outskirts of Los Angeles County but said there was no sign of mechanical failure.
A final report is not expected for a year or so.
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