Basketball’s most famous face Michael Jordan could not hide his tears when he divulged a secret between him and Kobe Bryant not many people inside or outside the NBA had any clue about.
The Memorial service for the late Bryant and his daughter Gigi took place at a packed Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, the team Bryant was a part of for his entire 20-year NBA career.
Bryant and the other victims were killed in January when their helicopter crashed into a California hillside in foggy conditions.
“Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends,” Jordan said. “But we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend. He was like a little brother.”
“At first, it was an aggravation,” Jordan admitted. “But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion that you would never know. It’s an amazing thing about passion. If you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you would go to the extreme to try to understand or try to get it. … If you have to walk, you will go get it. If you have to beg someone, you will go get it.”
The ceremony opened with a performance from Beyonce, before Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, paid tribute to her husband and 13-year-old daughter. She was given a standing ovation by thousands in the crowd and a host of NBA legends including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Celebrities such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez were also in attendance.