Kobe Bryant memorial: Jimmy Kimmel’s tearful tribute details Kobe’s charity work and Mamba Foundation
Jimmy Kimmel fought to hold back tears as he gave an emotional farewell to Kobe, Gianna, and the other victims of the helicopter crash
Following Beyonce's incredible opening performance for the "Celebration of Life" at the Staples Center, Jimmy Kimmel took to the center stage to pay tribute to the basketballing icon, Gianna, and seven others who lost their lives in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on January 26.
"This is a sad day, but it is also a celebration of life, of their lives, and of life itself in the building where those of us who are Lakers fans and Kobe fans celebrated the best times of our lives," Kimmel said, barely holding back his tears.
The camera, panning through the 20,000-strong crowd, showed that Kimmel was not the only one who found it hard to suppress his emotions, with many on the verge of tears just like him.
Kimmel also took the time out in his speech to speak about the Mamba Foundation and the charity work Kobe did, pointing out how proceeds from the memorial service would all go towards a noble cause.
"I don't think any of us could have imagined this," Kimmel continued, no longer able to hold back his tears. "Everywhere you go, you see his face, his number, Gigi's face, Gigi's number."
The talk show host spoke about the thousands of murals and tributes that had been left for Kobe throughout the country, and the world, and called the basketballer an "artist."
He pointed out how Kobe would be missed in places where he would be booed out of court, even giving the example of Boston Celtics' Bill Russell wearing Kobe's No. 24 jersey, as well as a hat with the initials 'KB' notched inside a gold heart despite their heated rivalry with the Lakers.
"I've been trying to think to take something positive from this," Kimmel said. "Gratitude. It seems all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them and the time we have with each other."
He ended by asking everyone in the court to greet the person next to them and introduced Kobe's widow Vanessa to the stage.