Vanessa Bryant introduced TIME magazine’s In Memoriam segment on Thursday night, which included her late husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant. The Lakers legend and the couple’s teenage daughter were two of nine people who perished in a helicopter crash in southern California in late January. Vanessa delivered a heartfelt speech in a pre-recorded video during the NBC primetime special, which introduced TIME‘s Person of the Year.
“Words cannot do justice to the grief we felt this year. At every level of human connection from across the world to across the table, we experienced profound loss,” Vanessa, 38, began. “We said goodbye to husbands, daughters, wives, sons, grandparents, friends and national heroes. And we continue to count the lives surrendered to this cruel pandemic, which has claimed well over a million souls, worldwide. Tonight, we mourn the people we all knew and the many we never will,” she continued, adding, “May our collective grief unite us on the path forward.”
— TIME (@TIME) December 11, 2020
Vanessa’s introduction was followed by a moving rendition of “Over the Rainbow” by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott. The performance served as the background to a photo tribute to those who died in 2020. The In Memoriam began with a powerful quote from Kobe, as images of the NBA icon and Gianna appeared on the screen.
“Everything is a game 7 and when you approach every practice and game with that mentality it bleeds into the rest of the guys,” Kobe said in a past audio clip talking about his on-court mentality.
Other late stars shown throughout the tribute included: Ahmaud Arbery, Alex Trebek, Breonna Taylor, Chadwick Boseman, Chuck Yeager, Eddie Van Halen, George Floyd, Jerry Stiller, John Lewis, Kathryn Johnson, Nick Cordero, Regis Philbin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg andSean Connery.
Kobe, 41, died alongside alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in the tragic helicopter crash that also killed seven others: Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan. The group had been traveling to a youth basketball game at Kobe’s Mamba Academy. Gigi would’ve turned 14 in May.
Since the devastating losses of Kobe and Gigi, Vanessa has shared numerous public tributes to her husband and daughter. Throughout the year, she took to social media to post old photos and memories on milestone dates, such as the couple’s anniversary and Kobe’s 42nd birthday in August.