“One thing I can come out of it saying is how strong and how bold and how powerful Vanessa [Bryant] is,” LeBron James said at the Los Angeles Lakers’ shootaround on Tuesday (Feb. 25), according to Sports Illustrated. LeBron, 35, praised Vanessa, 37, one day after she delivered a stirring eulogy for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in front of 19,000 fans at the Staples Center. “To stand up there the way she did, to give that speech the way she gave that speech. I commend her. My heart is with their family still. With his three daughters that are still here. With his wife. With his mom and dad and his sisters. It was just a very difficult day. Obviously, a celebration, but it was a difficult day for all of us.”
While many celebs attended the Feb. 24 memorial, LeBron James wasn’t seen among the mourners. With the growing talk that he didn’t attend, LeBron didn’t directly answer when asked if he missed the event. “Um, like I said man, it’s just, I respect your question for sure, but it’s very emotional,” he said. “A very emotional day. A very tough day for myself, for my family, for everyone involved.”
In addition to praising Vanessa, LeBron also gave props to Michael Jordan, 57, and his touching speech. “It’s well documented how their relationship was,” LeBron said of Kobe and MJ’s friendship. “Mike is always looked at as like a big brother to Kobe from the beginning. We’ve all seen that from the first time that they played in Chicago when Kobe was a young bol’. So, we all know that.”
LeBron — who said that he always looked up to Kobe and that playing alongside him at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games was a dream come true – noted that the Monday, the day of the memorial, was a “tough” one. “Emotionally [I’m] a wreck, like everyone else,” he said. “Another challenging day for all of us. Like you’ve been hearing me talk about the last couple times you guys asked me about the whole situation, it’s just been hard to kind of talk about it. Trying not to go back. It’s just tough.”
“It’s never a closure,” LeBron added. “It’s never going to be a closure. I mean, we continue to live on his legacy and continue to have our hearts heavy with both sadness and with happiness for his family that are still here. So, it’s not a closure. But it was a celebration which was well received from not only the Laker faithful, not only the family here, but everybody around the world.”
Following the Jan. 26 death of Kobe, Gianna, and seven other people aboard that fatal helicopter crash, LeBron honored his “brother” Kobe with numerous tributes. He penned an emotional message about how he was “heartbroken and devastated” by the loss. He got a memorial tattoo of a “Black Mamba,” Kobe’s nickname, on his knee. At the Lakers’ first game since Kobe’s death, LeBron broke down while giving a speech, saying that Kobe will “never be forgotten.” He also honored Kobe on the court, recreating one of Kobe’s iconic dunks during the Feb. 6 game against the Houston Rockets.