Vanessa Bryant mourned her NBA icon husband, Kobe, as her “everything” and their daughter Gianna as “sunshine” during a moving memorial Monday — her first public words since the helicopter crash that ripped them away.

“God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other,” said Bryant, clad in black and at points choking back tears as she addressed a rapt, capacity-plus crowd inside Los Angeles’ Staples Center.

“He had to bring them home to heaven together.”

The widow, 37, has released a handful of social-media posts laying bare her pain since the January helicopter crash that killed her husband, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others, but had yet to speak publicly on her heartbreak.

Reading from prepared notes, she paused at moments to collect herself, but pressed forward with the steely resolve her husband exhibited for years on the hardwood, speaking first about the second of their four daughters.

“Gianna Bryant was an amazingly sweet and gentle soul,” she said. “She was one of my very best friends.

“I could feel her love me. I loved the way she looked up at me while hugging me,” she said. “It was as if she was soaking me all in.

“We shared the same cat-that-ate-the-canary grin. Gigi was sunshine.”

Bryant recalled Gianna’s love of watching baking and cooking shows with her — but the teen opted for “Survivor” and NBA games with her endlessly competitive father.

She was every bit a “daddy’s girl” in her own burgeoning basketball career, the mom recalled.

“Gigi was confident, but not in an arrogant way,” she said. At school, “She offered the boys’ basketball coaches to help give the boys’ basketball team some pointers.

“Like the triangle offense,” she said, referring to the offense strategy employed on her husband’s great Lakers teams of the early 2000s, filling the arena those squads once dominated with laughter.

Bryant recalled Gianna, nicknamed Gigi, lapping her and older sister Natalia on a track when she was just 6 years old.

“We let her have a head start,” said Bryant. “She still dusted us.”

But she also spoke of milestones that will never come to pass.

“We will not be able to see Gigi go to high school with Natalia,” she said. “We didn’t get the chance to teach her how to drive a car.

“I won’t be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day, never get to see my baby walk down the aisle,” continued Bryant. “[Or] have a father-daughter dance with her daddy.”

Bryant spoke of her husband as her “soulmate,” offering a peek at Kobe’s tender side to fans and opponents who knew him only as the cutthroat, self-styled “Black Mamba.”

“Kobe was a fierce competitor on the basketball court,” she said. But “I couldn’t see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player.

“He was my sweet husband, and the beautiful father of our children,” she continued. “He was mine. He was my everything.”

View Gallery

Together since Kobe was 21 and Vanessa was just 17, Bryant described her husband as a hopeless romantic.

“He was truly the romantic one in our relationship,” she said. “I look forward to Valentine’s Day and our anniversaries every year. He planned special anniversary trips and a special traditional gift for every year of our marriage.”

Among those gifts, Bryant said, was the actual blue dress worn by actress Rachel McAdams in the romantic drama “The Notebook.”

“When I asked him why he chose the blue dress, he said it was because it’s [worn in] the scene when Allie comes back to Noah,” she said, referring to the film’s star-crossed lovers.

“We had hoped to grow old together like in the movie.”

Bryant said that her husband had wanted to renew their vows, but that they never got the opportunity.

“We really had an amazing love story,” she said. “We loved each other with our whole beings. Two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family, and raising our sweet and amazing girls.”


Michael Jordan jokes about 'crying' meme during Kobe Bryant memorial

Bryant described her husband as a “doting father” who always made time for family — or at least made up for his mistakes.

After retiring from the NBA in 2016, Kobe took over the duty of picking up and dropping off Natalia and Gianna at school, with his wife home nursing third daughter Bianka and pregnant with their youngest, Capri.

“I told him he couldn’t drop the ball once he took over,” said Bryant. “He was late one time.

“So he showed up 1 hour and 20 minutes early after that.”

Gianna loved to visit the koi pond at Newport Beach’s Fashion Island shopping mall, and Kobe loved to oblige, Bryant recalled.

Their final visit was the evening before Kobe’s helicopter slammed into the foggy hills of Calabasas on Jan. 26, en route to a youth basketball tournament in which father would coach and daughter would play.

“They were so easy to love,” said Bryant, before asking a final favor of her husband.

“Babe, you take care of our Gigi, and I got Nani, BB and Coco,” she said, using nicknames for each of their four girls. “We are still the best team.

“May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven, until we meet again,” she closed. “We love you both, and miss you. Forever and always, Mommy.”



Nkechi Blessing - Why I vowed not to post my wedding pictures

Michael Jackson's daughter Paris stuns fans by stripping nude with 'coven' of pals

Building a Culture of Security

Master P's son Hercy Miller, a freshman on Tennessee State's basketball team, has entered the transfer portal

The Taliban are megarich – here's where they get the money they use to wage war in Afghanistan

How to Setup Custom Domain on Blogger with GoDaddy Domain

Reasons why Africans can't contact the deadly Corona Virus confirmed by Chinese Doctor

Buildings taller than mount Everest: hundred story buildings skyscrapers