How Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Michael Jordan and More Rallied Around Vanessa Bryant During Kobe and Gigi Memorial
By Jennifer Drysdale
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It was a heartbreaking day for Vanessa Bryant, but those around her made sure to offer their support.
Kobe and Gianna Bryant were honored during a memorial service at Los Angeles' Staples Center on Monday, where Vanessa tearfully paid tribute to her late husband and daughter. Kobe and Gianna tragically died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Jan. 26, alongside seven others.
Bryant's close friends, like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and more, took the stage to remember him, while artists like Beyoncé and Alicia Keys offered their musical talents to pay tribute to the NBA legend.
Vanessa spoke early on in the service, delivering an emotional eulogy to Gianna and Kobe. Jimmy Kimmel, who introduced her, gave her a supportive hug as she tearfully took the stage amid cheers and a standing ovation from the audience.
An eyewitness tells ET that several stars teared up when Vanessa started speaking, including Gabrielle Union and Alex Rodriguez. Vanessa's mother, Sofia, cried during her daughter's speech, while Kobe’s sister, Shayla, held hands with their mother, Pamela.
Jordan offered Vanessa his hand, leading her off the stage after her speech, and JAY-Z then exchanged words with her, ET's eyewitness reports. A minute later, Vanessa's daughter, Bianka, was seen seated on her lap.
Beyoncé, who opened the Celebration of Life with her songs, "XO" and "Halo," was seated at the Staples Center behind Vanessa and her oldest daughter, Natalia. The singer sweetly held Vanessa's shoulders as a sign of support during the ceremony.
Keys -- who played Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" at the service (Bryant once learned to play it on the piano by ear for his wife -- also visited with Vanessa after her performance. According to ET's eyewitness, Keys stopped to talk to Vanessa and Natalia, kneeling down to hold Vanessa's hands, and then giving her a hug.
Magic Johnson took to Twitter after Kobe and Gianna's service ended to praise Vanessa for her strength.
"Cookie & I were blown away by the strength, grace & courage shown by Vanessa Bryant as she memorialized her husband & daughter. The personal stories & beautiful family memories she shared provided comfort as she opened a window into their lives & the love of their family," he wrote.
Cookie & I were blown away by the strength, grace & courage shown by Vanessa Bryant as she memorialized her husband & daughter. The personal stories & beautiful family memories she shared provided comfort as she opened a window into their lives & the love of their family.