Jimmy Kimmel took the podium at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service on Feb. 24, and fought back tears as he spoke about the NBA legend’s legacy to kick off the event.
The first speaker of the day at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service was Jimmy Kimmel. From the second he took the podium at the Staples Center on Feb. 24 , it was clear that Jimmy was fighting back tears. “This is a sad day, but a celebration of life itself in the building where, for those of us who are Lakers fans and Kobe fans, celebrated so many of the best times of our lives,” Jimmy began. “I’m honored to have been asked to speak here.” He got super choked up as he admitted that he “couldn’t imagine how painful” this event was for Kobe’s surviving family members, including his wife, Vanessa Bryant.
“I don’t think any of us could have imagined this,” he said. “Everywhere you go, you see his face, his number, Gigi’s number. Everywhere. At every intersection. There are hundreds of murals painted by artists who were inspired, not just because he’s a basketball player, but because Kobe was an artist, too. Not just in L.A., but across the country.” Jimmy went on to name all the cities where people were celebrating Kobe, which included places that were rivals of the L.A. Lakers on the basketball court.
“Today we are joined by Kobe’s teammates, his wife, his friends and family and fans as we try to make sense of what happened to these nine beautiful people, who were by all accounts, so full of life, who left behind parents, friends, co-workers, classmates siblings and children,” Jimmy said. “I’ve been trying to come up with something positive to take away from this, and it was hard, because there isn’t much. But the best thing I could come up with was this: Gratitude. It seems to me that all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them and for the time we have left with each other.”
Jimmy Kimmel pays tearful tribute to Kobe Bryant and the families of those who died in last month's crash: "Everywhere you go, you see his face, his number – Gigi's face, Gigi's number." #KobeFarewell https://t.co/ww51ZxTqzn pic.twitter.com/PJgo5IgBsd
— Variety (@Variety) February 24, 2020
At the end of his speech, Jimmy had everyone shake hands with those around them, as a show of unity. He then introduced Vanessa to the stage. Before Jimmy, Beyonce took the stage for a performance. There was not a dry eye in the house.