Basketball superstar and American entrepreneur Kobe Bryant died tragically in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, at the age of 41.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s Funeral Service
- How and Where Were Kobe and Gianna Bryant Buried?
- How Did People Memorialize Kobe and Gianna Bryant?
Bryant, as well as his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and several guests, were on their way to a youth basketball tournament when the private helicopter crashed into a hillside outside Los Angeles, California. All nine people on board, including the pilot, were fatally injured.
Bryant was one of the most popular sports figures in the United States and around the globe, so it’s no surprise that his passing sent shockwaves worldwide.
And while fans mourned his loss in nearly every corner of the globe, Bryant’s family held a private funeral for both Kobe and Gianna in California. Several weeks later, a star-studded memorial took place to honor the late sports hero, his beloved daughter, and the seven other people who lost their lives in the tragic crash.
Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s Funeral Service
Two weeks after their deaths, the Bryant family laid Kobe and Gianna to rest in Corona Del Mar, California. The family held a private ceremony at the Pacific View Mortuary located there. Little is known about the private ceremony, as it was for family only.
Just over two weeks later, a public memorial took place at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The public service gave celebrities and the public alike the opportunity to mourn Kobe, Gianna, and the others on board the helicopter that day.
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Location and date
The public funeral took place at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on February 24, 2020.
The location wasn’t chosen lightly. After all, it was at Staples Center that Kobe Bryant played for most of his legendary, 20-year career as an NBA basketball player with the LA Lakers. Bryant was such an integral player at LA’s Staples Center, in fact, that fans affectionately refer to the stadium as “the house that Kobe built.”
The arena was also large enough to accommodate the thousands of people in attendance at the public funeral for Kobe and Gianna.
The date of the memorial, February 24, also held special significance to the Bryant family and sports fans worldwide. The number 2/24 represents Gianna’s and Kobe’s jersey numbers, respectively.
Over 20,000 people flocked to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to offer their goodbyes to Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Fans crowded into the stadium and stood outside throughout the service.
Also in attendance were numerous celebrity personalities, musicians, and sports luminaries, as well as the extended Bryant family.
Kobe and Gianna’s family
Kobe Bryant’s parents, Joe and Pamela, were present at the public memorial for their son and their granddaughter. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow and mother to Gianna and their three surviving daughters, gave a heart-wrenching speech.
Basketball superstars present at Kobe and Giana’s “celebration of life” include Kareen Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Lisa Leslie, Diana Taurasi, Phil Jackson, LeBron James, Bill Russell, and Stephen Curry. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Lakers owner Jeannie Buss, and Lakers GM Rob Pelinka were in attendance. (Numerous other basketball coaches, managers, and players were present, and this is far from a complete list.)
Other sports stars were also in attendance, including the legendary Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, and his wife, Nicole Johnson.
The music at Kobe Bryant’s public memorial was provided by some of the top names in pop music, including Usher, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, and Beyonce. Other pop, rock, rap, and lyrical stars were also in attendance, including Queen Latifah, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Jennifer Lopez, and Paula Abdul.
Actors and celebs
Additional celebrities in attendance at Kobe Bryant’s service at Staples Center include Gabrielle Union and Jimmy Kimmel.
The memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna was full of heartfelt speeches and remembrances. But some of the most touching moments were musical. These are the musical performances that the attendees, and those watching from home, watched that day.
“XO” performed by Beyonce
Befitting the basketball star, Kobe Bryant, the memorial began with a performance by pop legend, Beyonce. She performed “XO,” which she noted was one of Kobe’s favorite songs.
“Halo” performed by Beyonce
After her opening performance, Beyonce also performed one of her most popular tunes, “Halo.” The song is well-suited to a celebration of life, with overarching angelic themes.
“Moonlight Sonata” performed by Alicia Keys
Next, Alicia Keys performed Beethoven’s popular piece, “Moonlight Sonata” on piano. The piece was meaningful to Kobe Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, as Lakers GM, Rob Pelinka, described in his speech. As Pelinka noted, Kobe learned to play the piece by ear for Vanessa, measure-by-measure.
“Ave Maria” performed by Chistina Aguilera
Finally, Christina Aguilera performed Franz Schubert’s well-known piece, “Ave Maria,” a popular and emotional funerary closing tune.
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Between the musical performances described above, numerous speakers gave touching tributes to Kobe and Gianna.
Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel hosted the public funeral service for Kobe and Gianna Bryant. He also gave a short tribute.
One of the most heartbreaking moments of the event was Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa’s speech. She spoke first about her beloved daughter Gianna, and then about the love of her life, Kobe.
Kobe’s former teammate, Shaquille O’Neal, stood at the podium to give a heartfelt tribute to his friend.
Michael Jordan told the crowd about how he grew to see Kobe Bryant as a younger brother.
Diana Taurasi, a WNBA star, gave a speech about training like Kobe Bryant.
Kobe’s former agent and Lakers GM, Rob Pelinka, revealed Kobe and Vanessa’s connection to “Moonlight Sonata” and gave a heartfelt tribute.
Because Kobe and Gianna were already laid to rest, there was no formal funeral procession following the public service.
The doors of the Staples Center opened to guests at 8:00 AM, and ticketholders and invitees were seated by 9:45 AM. The ceremony began at 10:00 AM, and it wrapped up in time to prepare the arena for the 7:30 PM Clippers vs. Grizzlies game that night.
How and Where Were Kobe and Gianna Bryant Buried?
Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna Bryant were buried on February 7, 2020, following a private family ceremony. Their final resting place is at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona Del Mar, California, near the Bryants’ home.
Kobe and Gianna were laid to rest side-by-side, with modest headstones. The cemetery and the Bryant family have kept the gravesites under wraps to prevent disturbance to the site. The gravestones are reportedly unmarked to keep fans at bay.
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How Did People Memorialize Kobe and Gianna Bryant?
Kobe Bryant’s public memorial at Staples Center wasn’t the only way he was remembered and memorialized following his death in 2020. Murals and vigils appeared in cities across the country following his passing.
Even former President Barack Obama offered a heartfelt and emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant and Gianna, stating that “nothing is more heartbreaking.”
Remembering Kobe and Gianna Bryant
Kobe Bryant was not only a legendary athlete; he was also a father, a husband, and a son. At the same time, Kobe was an inspiration to thousands as a businessman and a charitable individual. His daughter, Gianna Bryant, was an athlete in her own right. She was well on her way to becoming a basketball superstar, like her father, and had already touched the lives of many.
Along with the other seven people who were on board the helicopter on January 26, 2020, Gianna and Kobe Bryant will be deeply missed for many years to come.
- “Kobe Bryant, all others aboard helicopter died immediately in crash, autopsies show.” ESPN. 15 May 2020. www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29180785/kobe-bryant-helicopter-pilot-had-no-drugs-alcohol-system-autopsy-shows
- McLaughlin, Eliott C. “The world said goodbye to Kobe and Gianna Bryant in an emotional and star-studded celebration of their lives.” CNN. 25 February 2020. www.cnn.com/2020/02/24/us/kobe-bryant-memorial-monday-staples-center/index.html
- Walker, Finley. “Songs at Kobe Bryant’s memorial: The meaning behind the music.” WTSP Tampa Bay. 24 February 2020. www.wtsp.com/article/entertainment/music/music-at-kobe-bryant-tribute/67-3e1af3d5-8603-4c4e-94c6-058d119cba53
- Davis, Scott. “NBA legends and celebrities came out in droves to pay their respects at Kobe and Gianna Bryant's memorial. Here's who attended.” Business Insider. 24 February 2020. www.businessinsider.com/photos-nba-stars-celebrities-kobe-gianna-bryant-memorial-2020-2