LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Vanessa Bryant has given mourners at a public memorial for Kobe Bryant an intimate portrait of her husband and their daughter Gianna. She said the world saw Kobe as a celebrity and basketball legend – the Black Mamba – but to her he was her best friend and protector.
“He was mine, he was my everything since I was 17 1/2 years old,” said Bryant. “I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidant and his protector. He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words.”
Walking onto a stage adorned with thousands of roses, Bryant’s wife made her first public appearance since her husband and daughter died
along with seven other people in the Calabasas crash. She gave a tearful, powerful tribute to them both, painting a picture of her world-famous husband as a loving husband and family man.
“I have no idea how I deserved a man that loved and wanted me more than Kobe,” she said. “He was charismatic, a gentleman. He was loving,
adoring and romantic. He was truly the romantic one in our relationship. I looked forward to Valentine’s Day and our anniversaries every year.”
As she spoke, Bryant’s number 8 and 24 jerseys were illuminated in the Staples Center rafters as Vanessa spoke of his legacy.
“We had always talked about how we would be the fun grandparents to our daughters’ children,” she said. “He would have been the coolest grandpa.
Kobe was the MVP of girl -ads, or MVD. He never left the toilet seat up. 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.”
Vanessa described her daughter, Gianna, as a loving teen with a smile that filled her face, and who never left the house or came home with kissing
Vanessa said she and Kobe planned to renew their vows and travel the world together.
She fought back tears as she described Gianna as a sweet, thoughtful soul who loved always kissing her mother good morning and goodnight.
“She was so full of life and had so much more to offer this world,” Bryant said. “I cannot imagine life without her.
“God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other.”
Vanessa said Gianna loved swimming, singing along with hit songs, baking cookies and watching “Survivor” and NBA games with her father.
She noted that her daughter, while hailed for her basketball talent, was also great at gymnastics, soccer, softball and
“Gigi would have mostly likely become the best player in the WNBA,” she said. “She would have made a huge difference for women’s basketball. Gigi
was motivated to change the way everyone viewed women in sports. She wrote papers in school defending women and wrote about how the unequal pay difference of the NBA and WNBA leagues wasn’t fair.”