NBA legend Michael Jordan delivered an emotional and heartfelt speech dedicated to late basketball icon Kobe Bryant and shared some surprising secrets about their relationship.
During the official memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant at the Staples Center in Los Angeles California a tearful speech from Kobe’s former mentor turned good friend was one of the afternoon’s most powerful moments.
From the moment Jordan made his walk towards the podium, he began crying. He kicked off his speech by thanking Vanessa Bryant for the invitation to speak on Kobe’s legacy.
“I’m grateful to Vanessa and the Bryant family for the opportunity to speak today. I’m grateful to be here to honor Gigi and celebrate the gift that Kobe gave us all,” Jordan started.
He continued, “Maybe it surprises people that Kobe and I were very close friends, but we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend; he was like a little brother,” Jordan stated. “Everyone wanted to talk about comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe.”
Jordan then detailed Bryant’s passion for all things basketball, and life.
“He used to call me, text me, 11:30 [at night], 2, o’clock, 3 o’clock in the morning, talking about post-up moves, footwork and sometimes, the triangle. At first, it was an aggravation, but then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like 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.”
Later in the speech, Jordan went on to detail how Kobe was an inspiration to him, and how he regarded the late 41-year-old athlete as a “brother.”
“What Kobe Bryant was to me, was the inspiration that someone truly cared about either how 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.
“That’s what I loved about the kid… I admired him because [of] his passion, you rarely see someone who is looking to try and improve each and everyday, not just in sports, but as a parent, [and] as a husband. I am inspired by what he shared, and what he’s done with Vanessa and with his kids.”
The 57-year-old retired NBA legend then spoke to Kobe’s legacy as a father, and how it inspired him to embrace being a #GirlDad himself.
“I can’t wait to get home and become a #GirlDad and to hug them and to see the love and the smiles that they bring to us as parents. He taught me that.
“To Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka and Capri, my wife and I will keep you close in our hearts and in our prayers, and we’ll always be here for you. I also want to offer our condolences and support to all the families affected by this enormous tragedy. Kobe gave every last ounce of himself, to whatever he was doing.”
Jordan then reflected on Kobe’s life off the court, commending the late player for his abilities that extended far outside of basketball.
“After basketball, [Kobe] showed a creative side [of] himself, that I didn’t think any of us knew he had. In retirement, he seemed so happy. He found new passions, and he continued to give back, as a coach, in his community. More importantly, he was an amazing dad, an amazing husband, who dedicated himself to his family, and who loved his daughters, with all his heart.”
Jordan ended the emotional speech revealing that a part of him “died” the day Kobe passed away, and that he promises to make the most out of each day.
“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. 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.”
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