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More than 20,000 people gathered Monday at Los Angeles’ Staples Center -- known by Lakers fans as “The House that Kobe Built” -- to honor NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were killed in a January helicopter crash. Speakers included fellow athletes and celebrities, from Michael Jordan to Beyonce, who paid tribute to both Bryants' passion and drive. John Yang reports.
Finally tonight, the city of Los Angeles, the Lakers, the sport of basketball, and fans worldwide said goodbye to Kobe Bryant and his daughter today.
They and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash last month.
John Yang has this look at an emotional ceremony.
2/24/20, Los Angeles comes together to mourn its iconic 24, the late L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant, and his daughter Gianna, who wore uniform No. 2, more than 20,000 people, a sea of purple and gold at the Staples Center known as the house that Kobe built.
I'm here because I love Kobe.
The event, which Bryant's family wanted to be as much a celebration as a memorial, began with a tribute from Beyonce.
One of the most powerful moments, remarks from Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's wife and the mother of Gianna, who was known as Gigi.
God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together.
Babe, you take care of our Gigi. We love and miss you, Boo Boo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven, until we both meet again one day.
Speakers included star athletes and celebrities.
Now he's got me — I will have look at another crying meme for the next…
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Basketball great Michael Jordan.
I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could.
Please, rest in peace, little bro.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, a rising basketball player in her own right, died in a January helicopter crash.
The WNBA Phoenix Mercury's Diana Taurasi.
The same passion we all recognized in Kobe, obviously, Gigi inherited. Her skill was undeniable at an early age. I mean, who has a turn-away fade-away jumper at 11? LeBron barely got it today.
Also on the helicopter that day, two of Gigi's basketball teammates and their parents, one of their coaches and the pilot.
Today, Vanessa Bryant filed a wrongful death suit against the helicopter operator.
Bryant became a Laker at just 17. During his 20 years on the team, he brought home five NBA championships and an MVP title. When he retired in 2016, he was number three in career points.
Former teammate Shaquille O'Neal:
Kobe and I pushed one another to play some of the greatest basketball of all time, and I am proud that no other team has accomplished what the three-peat Lakers have done since Shaq and the Kobe Lakers did it.
But make no mistake. Even when folks thought we were on bad terms, when the cameras were turned off, he and I would throw a wink at each and say, let's go whoop some ass.
His career was tarnished by a 2003 rape charge involving a woman in Colorado. The criminal charges were dismissed, and a civil case was settled out of court.
Bryant initially said the encounter was consensual, but later issued a statement apologizing to the woman and acknowledging that "she didn't and doesn't view this incident the same way I did."
In retirement, Bryant was a vocal supporter for women's basketball and moved into new arenas, including movies. He wrote and narrated "Dear Basketball," which won the 2018 Oscar for best animated short film.
Today, it closed the ceremony.
Love you always, Kobe.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.
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John Yang is the anchor of PBS News Weekend and a correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. He covered the first year of the Trump administration and is currently reporting on major national issues from Washington, DC, and across the country.
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