Vanessa Bryant pays tribute to Kobe Bryant and her daughter Gianna at memorial service

By Zach Harper

Calling Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant her "soulmate" and her "baby girl," Vanessa Bryant helped fans say goodbye to her late husband and daughter at a memorial service in Los Angeles.

The 37-year-old was joined by her daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3 and seven-month-old Capri at the Staples Center for the event that was held Feb. 24 to honour both Kobe and Gianna's jersey numbers (24 and 2, respectively). They were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. on Jan. 26.

After she was introduced by Jimmy Kimmel, Vanessa began by paying tribute to Gianna, who was 13 when she died in the wreckage. She called her second-eldest child "very competitive, like her daddy," but also "had my fire, my personality and sarcasm... she was tender and loving on the inside."

"She was daddy's girl, but I know she loved her mamma," she said on stage. "She was one of my very best friends."

"She had the best laugh," Vanessa continued. "It was infectious, it was pure and genuine. Kobe and Gianna naturally gravitated toward each other."

Vanessa, Kobe, Natalia and Gianna at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017. Photo: © Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Gianna died at the beginning of her teens, meaning there are many things she will never get to see her second-eldest daughter do, Vanessa said.

"We will not be able to see Gianna go to high school with Natalia... we didn't get the chance to teach her how to drive a car," she continued. "I won't be able to tell her how gorgeous she looks on her wedding day. I'll never get to see my baby girl walk down the aisle, have a father-daughter dance with her daddy... or have babies of her own."

After telling the crowd she missed "all of" Gianna, "every day," she then spoke about Kobe. She called the Los Angeles Lakers legend her "soulmate," "the most amazing husband" and the "MVP... of girl dads" who taught all four of his daughters "how to be brave" and always told them they were "beautiful and smart."

"Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words," 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."

Ending her speech, Vanessa spoke more about how much she missed and will continue to miss her husband and oldest child, saying "they were so easy to love."

"Everyone naturally gravitated toward them," she said. "They were funny, happy, silly and they loved life. They were so full of joy and adventure.

"God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together."

Lots of street art has gone up throughout Los Angeles in Gianna and Kobe's memory. Photo: © Mario Tama/Getty Images

Kobe and Gianna were laid to rest on Feb. 7 in a private funeral at Pacific View Memorial Park and Mortuary in Corona Del Mar, Calif., various reports said.

The Feb. 24 memorial also recognized John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan, the seven other people who lost their lives when the helicopter went down in Calabasas.

Vanessa has been outspoken about her grief since she lost Kobe and Gianna, and posted a special message to Instagram on Jan. 29 to thank fans for their support but also be honest and open with her feelings.

Investigators examining the scene of the crash that killed Gianna, Kobe and seven other people in January. Photo: © David McNew/Getty Images

"My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time," she wrote. "We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe – the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna – a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

"We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them both in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon."

A few weeks ago, she posted another update on Feb. 10, saying her "brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone."

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