Basketball

Jordan pays tribute to 'brother' Kobe at memorial

A tearful Michael Jordan on Monday (Feb 24) commemorated his “little brother” Kobe Bryant at a star-filled memorial in Los Angeles for the basketball great and his daughter Gianna, who died with seven others in a helicopter crash last month.

“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died and, as I look in this arena, across the globe, a piece of you died,” the NBA legend said, tears streaming down his face.

“I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories and knowing that I had a little brother,” added Jordan, who is widely regarded as the greatest player in history.

“I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace little brother.”

The public memorial – dubbed “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” – was held at Staples Center, known as “the house that Kobe built”, after Bryant wowed fans for 17 years at the arena.

The 24/2 date carries special significance as it coincides with Bryant and Gianna’s jersey Nos. 24 and 2 respectively.

Another basketball great, Shaquille O’Neal, who won three NBA titles with Bryant, also spoke at the ceremony attended by some 20,000 people, while several music stars, including Beyonce and Alicia Keys, performed.

“I’m here because I love Kobe,” said the 70-time Grammy-nominated Beyonce as she launched into one of Bryant’s favorite songs “XO”, dressed in a golden suit – the colour of the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant’s team for two decades.

Bryant’s widow Vanessa paid a tearful tribute to her late husband and daughter, saying she could not fathom life without them.

“God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other,” Bryant said in her first public remarks since the Jan 26 crash.

“He had to bring them home together.”

She spoke of her heartbreak at not being able to watch Gianna, who was 13, grow up and missing important moments of her life.

“I won’t be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day,” she said through tears, receiving a standing ovation for the tribute. – AFP

Kobe BryantLos Angeles Lakersmichael jordanNBABasketballBeyonce Knowles