Beyoncé opened Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s celebration of life on Monday with a powerful, seven-minute performance that brought the Staples Center to tears. “I’m here because I love Kobe, and this was one of his favorite songs,” she said during a musical interlude between singing “XO” and “Halo.” “So I want to start that over, but I want us to do it all together. And I want you to sing it so loud, they’ll hear your love.”
Introduced as a “a very close friend of the Bryant family,” Beyoncé took center court flanked by a small orchestra and a choir dressed all in white. The relationship between the singer and Bryant dates back to her days as a member of Destiny’s Child, when Bryant had a cameo in the group’s music video for “Bug-a-Boo.” Wearing signature Lakers’ colors, Beyoncé donned a gold suit and purple nails that spelled out “Kobe” on one the right hand, and “Gigi,” a nickname for Gianna, on the left. The stunning performance ended with an impassioned Beyoncé repeating the lines “pray it don’t fade away.” As the music began to fade, she raised her hand toward the ceiling, and said, “I love you.”
Bryant and his daughter died last month in a helicopter crash that also took the lives of seven other people. The sports community and Los Angelenos mourned the sudden death of the 41-year-old, surrounding the Staples Centers in flowers and candles the Sunday he died. Bryant stayed with the Los Angeles Lakers for the entirety of his two-decade career.
Bryant’s colleagues and family, including his wife Vanessa, were among those who attended the memorial on Monday, with Vanessa bravely memorializing her daughter and husband, noting “he was my everything.”