LOS ANGELES — The official memorial ceremony for former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, began at 10 a.m. PT Monday at STAPLES Center.
You can watch the entire memorial for Kobe and Gianna below:
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's widow and Gianna's mother, spoke on camera for the first time since the helicopter crash last month.
“God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other," said Vanessa. "He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. I got Nani, Bibi, and Coco. We still make the best team.”
First, Vanessa spoke about her daughter, Gianna, often called "Gigi."
"My baby girl. She was always thoughtful. She always kissed me good morning and kissed me goodnight," said Vanessa. “She was daddy’s girl, but I know she loved her mama.”
“Her smile was like sunshine," said Vanessa.
Then, Vanessa talked about how she missed her daughter's laugh.
“It was infectious. It was pure and genuine. She was confident, but not in an arrogant way," said Vanessa.
Vanessa said Gianna loved family movie night and game night, and how she was looking forward to going to high school with her big sister, Natalia.
Then, Vanessa talked about Kobe. He was 41 years old.
“He was loving, adoring, and romantic," said Vanessa.
Vanessa said that Kobe enjoyed movies, like Little Women.
“He’d give [he gave] to me the actual book and blue dress Rachel McAdams wore in the Notebook movie [...] We had hoped to grow old together like the movie. We really had an amazing story.”
Vanessa talked about their experiences raising their four daughters. Kobe sent Vanessa a now-treasured text before he died that Vanessa said she is grateful for.
“A couple weeks before they passed, Kobe sent me a sweet text and mentioned how he wanted to spend time together [...] we never got the chance to do it. We were busy taking care of our girls. Kobe wanted us to renew our vows."
Vanessa said that Kobe had the chance to hear their youngest daughter, Capri, say "Dada" for the first time shortly before he died. Additionally, Vanessa said that Kobe spent the last full day of his life playing at the park with his daughter, Bianca, on Fashion Island in Orange County.
“Kobe was the MVP of girl dads, or MVD," said Vanessa.
"He thought them [daughters] how to be brave," said Vanessa.
"When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died, and as I look in this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died or else you wouldn’t be here," said Michael Jordan during his speech. "Those are the memories that we have to live with and we learn from.”
As the tears streamed down his face Jordan referred to a popular image of him used often in memes showing him crying. He joked about how he would now have to deal with new memes showing him crying.
Shaquille O'Neal also said he promised to teach Kobe's surviving daughters about basketball and tp guide them.
“I promise I will not each them our free throw techniques," joked Shaq.
In the last moments before Kobe Bryant's death, the NBA legend was trying to "bless and shape a young girl's future," his good friend Rob Pelinka explained Monday.
Pelinka, Kobe's longtime agent and current Los Angeles Lakers General Manager, explained during the Celebration of Life service for Kobe and Gianna that Kobe had been texting him from the helicopter just before it crashed on the morning of Jan. 26.
Officials urged fans that didn't have tickets to Monday's memorial to stay away for the L.A. Live area.
"We hope that everybody heeds the message and they stay either in their offices, surrounded by their friends or at home with their family or loved ones, because it's going to be a very emotional memorial for that day and we want people to be able to enjoy it," STAPLES Center President Lee Zeidman told reporters outside the venue.
News 8 captured fans lined up around the STAPLES Center, waiting in line to pay their respects:
Bryant and Gianna were killed along with seven other people in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Jan. 26.
Zeidman and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore on Friday stressed that the ceremony would not be broadcast on any of the outdoor screens at STAPLES Center or in the adjacent L.A. Live plaza.
"This is, to be clear, a ticketed worldwide event at this location," Moore said. "And what that means is, if you don't have tickets and credentials, you will not be allowed into this venue. ... The point there is, do not impact the rest of the Los Angeles downtown community by trying to come here and be part of something that you'll not be a part of."
Moore and Zeidman said they did not anticipate issues of people trying to "crash" the event or cause a disturbance, with both saying the public has shown the utmost respect in the weeks following the helicopter crash that killed Bryant, 41, Gianna, 13, and seven others.
"I'm lucky I'll be there to give him his last goodbye," said Edith Castaneda who was one of 20,000 people who snagged a seat for the event. "I was shaking. I even cried. "I couldn't believe it."
More than 100,000 people wanted to get in.
Along with Bryant and his daughter, also killed in the crash were:
-- John Altobelli, 56, longtime coach of the Orange Coast College baseball team, along with his wife, Keri, 46, and their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa, who was a teammate of Gianna on Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy basketball team;
-- Sarah Chester, 45, and her 13-year-old daughter Payton, who also played with Gianna and Alyssa;
-- Christina Mauser, 38, one of Bryant's assistant coaches on the Mamba Academy team; and
-- Ara Zobayan, 50, the helicopter pilot.
Zeidman noted that as many as 350,000 people visited a massive memorial that grew outside STAPLES Center in the days after the crash, without any incidents.
Major streets -- such as Pico and Olympic boulevards -- near the arena remained open, but smaller streets outside STAPLES Center and L.A. Live were blocked off and accessible only to people with tickets.
Ticket prices for the memorial ranged from $24.02 to $224. The ticket prices, along with the date of the event, were all in recognition of Bryant's jersey number, 24, and Gianna's number 2.
All proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.
Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier will honor Bryant on its 90-foot- tall Ferris Wheel by featuring "LA (loves) 24" and "LA (loves) 8" along with displays of gold and purple colors in a variety of patterns and transitions, from sunset to midnight Monday.
LAX tweeted Sunday that its pylons "will once again be lit in purple and gold tonight and tomorrow evening as the city and fans around the world mourn this terrible loss of life."