Kobe’s wife and some of his closest friends spoke in devastatingly emotional terms about their grief. But the memorial also featured stirring musical performances and even a few bursts of levity. Here’s a look at some of the key moments from the tribute inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Beyoncé takes the stage
Beyoncé, dressed in gold and bathed in purple light, galvanized the crowd inside “The House That Kobe Built” at the beginning of the memorial.
Backed by a choir and musicians dressed in white, Beyoncé sang part of her 2013 hit “XO,” which she said was one of Kobe’s favorite songs. She then belted out a particularly passionate rendition of “Halo.”
Jimmy Kimmel fights back tears
The late-night host Jimmy Kimmel played the role of emcee, introducing speakers and occasionally throwing out some gentle one-liners. In his opening remarks, Kimmel’s voice shook and tears streamed down his face.
He implored the crowd inside Staples and viewers at home to be grateful for every moment they have with the ones they love.
Vanessa Bryant pays tearful tribute
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, gave a tearful and at times devastating eulogy.
She mourned the loss of her “baby girl” Gianna, “a sweet and gentle soul” and preternaturally talented athlete who she said was destined for WNBA greatness. She remembered her husband as a soulful romantic with a “tender heart” and a “doting” father for whom family always came first.
“They were funny, happy, silly, and they loved life,” Vanessa said of Kobe and Gianna, adding: “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together.”
Lakers GM: Kobe was ‘heroic’ until the end
Rob Pelinka, the general manager of the Lakers and one of Kobe’s best friends, recalled that one of Kobe’s final acts before his tragic death was characteristically selfless.
Kobe, he recalled, sent him a text, asking him to put him in touch with a baseball agent who might be able to help the daughter of fellow crash victim John Altobelli.
“Kobe’s last human act was heroic,” Pelinka said. “He wanted to use his platform to bless and shape a young girl’s future.”
Alicia Keys on the piano
Alicia Keys moved the crowd by playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” a piece adored by Kobe and Vanessa.
Keys previously paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna on the night they died, performing “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” alongside Boyz II Men at the Grammy Awards last month.
MJ’s moving speech — and a joke
NBA legend Michael Jordan received thunderous applause in his eulogy for Kobe, whom he described as “my dear friend, he was like a little brother.”
“Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I,” Jordan said. “I just wanted to talk about Kobe.”
Jordan broke down crying during his speech, but he lifted the somber mood with a joke: “I’ll have to look at another crying meme.”
He was referring to a popular internet meme known as “Crying Jordan.”
Shaq delivers emotional farewell and gets a laugh
Shaquille O’Neal delivered a touching tribute to Kobe, putting a final loving touch on their relationship that had its share of ups and downs.
In a lighthearted moment, Shaq told the crowd that he once tried to talk to Kobe about hogging the ball.
“There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team,'” he remembered telling Kobe.
“I know,” Kobe replied, per Shaq. “But there’s an M-E in that motherf—–.”