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Michael Jordan pays tearful tribute to 'little brother' Kobe Bryant

By Peter Thompson

Los Angeles, February 25: A tearful Michael Jordan was given a standing ovation after paying tribute to his "little brother" Kobe Bryant during an emotional memorial service at Staples Center on Monday (February 24).

Thousands packed into the home of the Los Angeles Lakers to pay their respects to Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were tragically killed in a helicopter crash last month.

Vanessa Bryant referred to Kobe, who passed away aged 41, as "the perfect husband" and said her 13-year-old daughter Gianna "would have most likely become the best player in the WNBA".

Shaquille O'Neal also gave a poignant speech, while there were performances from Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys before the legendary Jordan had the likes of Stephen Curry on their feet with a touching tribute.

Jordan said: "Kobe and I were very close friends, not only was he my good friend, he was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I, I just wanted to talk about Kobe."

He added: "This kid had passion like you would never know. It's the amazing thing about passion, if you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you would go to the extremes to try to understand or get it.

"What Kobe Bryant was for me, was the inspiration that someone truly cared about the way either I played the game or the way that he wanted to play the game.

"He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be and as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.

"To do that you have to put up with the aggravation, the late-night calls or the dumb questions. I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant that he was just trying to be a better person; a better basketball player.

"We talked about business, we talked about family, we talked about everything and he was just trying to be a better person. I am inspired by what he's done and what he's shared with Vanessa and his kids."

Jordan finished off by saying: "When Kobe Bryant died a piece of me died and as I look in this arena and across the globe, a piece of you died, or else you wouldn't be here.

"Those are the memories that we have to live with and we learn from and 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 any way I could. Please rest in peace little brother."

Vanessa Bryant on Monday submitted a wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters over the crash in Calabasas, California on January 26.

A spokesman for Island Express Helicopters said: "This was a tragic accident. We will have no comment on the pending litigation."

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Story first published: Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 4:30 [IST]
Other articles published on Feb 25, 2020
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