BEYONCE opened up the Celebration of Life memorial with a beautiful tribute to honor the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
The pop star began by singing her ballad XO, but restarted the tune after a few lines so that the 20,000 fans and loved ones present could sing along in unison.
“I’m here because I love Kobe, and this was one of his favorite songs so I want to start that over,” she said.
“I want us to do it all together, and I want you to sing so loud, he hears your love.”
Beyoncé was joined by a choir and orchestra during the performance at Staples Center – known as the House Kobe Built – where Bryant spent his entire 20-year career suiting up for the Los Angeles Lakers.
She also sang a special rendition of her 2014 hit Halo and appeared to break composure at the end of the performance by sending a kiss into the air.
Thousands of fans, friends, and loved ones mourned the NBA legend and his 13-year-old daughter nearly a month to the day after the pair were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Seven others perished alongside the five-time NBA champion on January 26 as all nine were headed to a youth basketball tournament at Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks.
Following Kobe and Gigi’s deaths, they were laid to rest on February 7 by his wife Vanessa Bryant in a private funeral attended only by his closest friends and family.
Kobe and Gigi’s final resting place is at the Pacific View Memorial Park, which is close to the Bryant family’s home in Orange County.
Monday’s memorial service offered NBA fans, Los Angeles natives, and other members of the public a chance to reflect on Kobe’s life and impact on the sport he loved dearly.
Jimmy Kimmel hosted the event, and he broke down in tears as he admitted he didn’t “think not one of us could have imagined this.”
“Everywhere you go you see his face and his number, Gigi’s face…,” Kimmel said.
Kobe’s widow Vanessa announced the date of the service on Instagram, sharing a picture of butterflies and Kobe and Gigi’s names with the caption: “#2, #24, #20 Years as a Laker and the amount of years Kob and I were together.”
The date of the memorial has added significance – Kobe wore No. 24 in the latter half of his NBA career, while Gianna wore No. 2 for her youth basketball team.
Following his tragic death, thousands of basketball fans gathered outside the arena to remember the legend.
Dedicated fans quickly cobbled together a makeshift monument to commemorate the basketball icon using flowers, letters, jerseys and basketballs.
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