Tag Archives: Shaquille O’Neal

Vanessa Bryant Speaks For The First Time At Kobe And Gianna’s Memorial

(LOS ANGELES, Ca. (AP) – Kobe Bryant’s wife offered a poignant portrait of her NBA superstar husband and their daughter Monday at a packed memorial service for the two, who were among nine people killed last month in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.

Speaking at times through tears, Vanessa Bryant praised her husband’s devotion to their family as she addressed thousands of fans gathered at Staples Center to remember Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna.

”God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other,” Vanessa Bryant said. ”He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi.”

The service took place at the downtown arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for the final 17 seasons of his two-decade NBA career. Thousands of Lakers fans, many wearing Bryant’s jersey or team colors, attended the tearful gathering to honor Los Angeles’ most popular athlete and a global basketball icon.

The ceremony began with Beyonce performing her songs ”XO” and ”Halo” with dozens of backup musicians. Alicia Keys performed Beethoven’s ”Moonlight Sonata” later in the program, and Christina Aguilera sang ”Ave Maria.”

The two-hour program concluded with ”Dear Basketball,” Bryant’s Academy Award-winning short film.

After Jimmy Kimmel welcomed the crowd, Vanessa Bryant remembered the family’s life with Gianna and her three siblings and then eulogized her husband. They had been together since 1999.

”He was the most amazing husband,” she said. ”Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. I was fire. He was ice. Vice versa at times. … He was my everything.”

The mourners included Lakers greats such as Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Pau Gasol. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Phil Jackson and dozens of current NBA players, including Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles natives James Harden, Russell Westbrook and DeMar DeRozan. Celebrities such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez also attended.

Jordan, the Chicago Bulls great whose career was wrapping up as Bryant’s was starting in the late 1990s, praised Bryant as ”one of my dear friends. He was like a little brother. … As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be.”

O’Neal and Bryant joined the Lakers together in 1996, and they won three consecutive championships during eight tumultuous seasons in purple and gold. Although their relationship was often publicly rocky, Shaq said the two were always friendly in private, even comparing their dynamic to John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

”Kobe and I pushed each other to play some of the greatest basketball of all time,” O’Neal said. ”I’m proud nobody has accomplished what the threepeat Lakers have done since the Shaq and Kobe Lakers did it.”

O’Neal also got the biggest laugh in the somber service with a profane joke about an exchange in which Shaq told Kobe there was no ”I” in team, but Bryant responded by noting that there is an ”M-E.”

Vanessa Bryant was followed on the podium by basketball stars Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu. Kobe Bryant was a passionate advocate for women’s basketball, and Gigi Bryant was a promising young player.

”If I represented the present of the women’s game, Gigi represented the future, and Kobe knew it,” said Ionescu, the Oregon star who was mentored by Bryant.

Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s longtime agent before he became the Lakers’ general manager in 2017, referred to the day of the crash as ”when the axis of the world seemed to shift forever, for all of us.” Pelinka was also Gigi Bryant’s godfather, and the families were close.

He also revealed that Bryant had texted him only moments before the crash, asking for help in securing an internship with a baseball agent for teenager Alexis Altobelli, who lost her parents and younger sister in the crash moments later.

”Kobe lived to make other people’s lives better, all the way up to his final text,” Pelinka said.

Continue reading Vanessa Bryant Speaks For The First Time At Kobe And Gianna’s Memorial

Shaq Teams Up With Houston Police Officer To Cover Cost Of Jazmine Barnes’ Funeral

(Houston, TX) – Former NBA champ Shaquille O’Neal is helping the family of Jazmine Barnes with funeral costs for their little girl.  The 7-year old was killed when her family’s car was targeted in a drive-by shooting in Houston TX on December 30th as her family drove on the E. Sam Houston Pkwy frontage at Wallisville Road.
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Authorities have released a sketch of the suspect who was driving a red pickup truck. Jazmine’s mother LaPorcha Washington says she believes the shooting was racially motivated. She says, “This is something that I believe was a hate crime.  He had enough time to know that there was a woman and kids in the car.”

Shaq and Houston officer Kenneth Miles presented a cashier’s check to the family to cover burial expenses. Several celebrities have also chipped in on a reward or anyone who gives up the suspects whereabouts.
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Washington who was shot in the arm described what happened,“As I turned around and looked back at the street, I heard shots start firing and they came through my window, broke my glass, and hit me in my arm. They sped off in front of us and the truck slowed down and continued to fire as he was in front of us,” she said. “It was not fair. He intentionally killed my child for no reason. He didn’t even know her, he didn’t know who she was.”
Washington also said it was her youngest daughter who noticed her big sister had been injured. “She said, ‘Momma, Jazmine’s not moving. She’s not talking.’ I turned around and my 7-year-old was shot in the head,” Washington said. “My baby comes and asks me, ‘Where’s my sister? Is she coming back?’ She’s only 6 years old.”
Jazmine’s funeral is on Tuesday.