LOS ANGELES - Vanessa Bryant remembered her husband Kobe as a hopeless romantic, gentleman and adoring family man during a heartfelt speech at Staples Center on Monday.
“I couldn’t see him as a celebrity nor just as an incredible basketball player. He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children. He was mine. He was my everything,” Vanessa said.
Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in late January. They were remembered at a special memorial service Monday.
Vanessa called Bryant “the most amazing husband” who loved her more than she could put into words.
“He was charismatic, a gentleman. He was loving, adoring and romantic,” she said. “He had a tender heart.”
Vanessa and Bryant began dating when she was just 17 and eventually became parents to Natalia, 17, Gianna, 13, Bianka, 4, and Capri, eight months.
“Two perfectly imperfect people, making a beautiful family and raising our sweet, amazing girls,” Vanessa said.
She recalled a moment when Bryant gifted her the notebook and blue dress Rachel McAdams wore in the movie “The Notebook.” She said he got them for her specifically because McAdams wore them in a scene where her character Allie always came back to Noah.
“We had hoped to grow old together like they did in the movie. We really had an amazing love story,” she said.
A few weeks before Bryant died, he sent a “sweet text” to Vanessa with the idea for them to spend more time together. But they never got the chance to do it, she said. Still, she treasures the text.
She said Bryant wanted to renew their vows, hand off the company to his daughter Natalia and “travel the world together.”
“We always talked about how we’d be the fun grandparents to our daughters’ children – he would have been the coolest grandpa,” she said.
Vanessa went on to call her husband the “MVP of girl dads – or MVD.”
“He never left the toilet seat up. He always told the girls how beautiful and smart they are. He taught them how to be brave and how to keep pushing forward when things get tough,” she said.
When the doting father retired in 2016, he began taking and picking up the girls from school in order to focus more on family and spend time with his girls. But during his second act, he often had a busy schedule and told Vanessa that he wished all of his daughters could play basketball so that he could spend half as much time with them as he did Gigi.
“Now they won’t have their daddy and sister here to teach them and that is truly a loss I do not understand,” Vanessa said. “But I am so thankful Kobe heard Coco say ‘dada.’”
Vanessa added that her husband would not be around to keep her grounded, see his youngest daughters go off to school or walk them down the aisle for their weddings. But she knew her children would remember the wonderful human being he was.
“I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband and father he was. The kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes,” she said.
As she ended her speech and continued to hold back tears, she knew her husband and daughter were together and happy.
“God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together.
“Babe, you take care of our Gigi and I got Nani, Bibi and Coco – we’re still the best team. We love and miss you, booboo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again one day. We love you both and miss you. Forever and always, mommy,” she said.