Michael Jordan has delivered a heartfelt speech while tears streamed down his face at Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial service today.
The memorial took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday local time, following the tragic helicopter crash that killed the NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others.
Jordan couldn’t hold back his tears as he took to the microphone at the memorial to commemorate his “little brother” Kobe.
“He was like a little brother,” Jordan said. “You know all of us have brothers, little brothers, little sisters, that for whatever reason tend to get in your stuff, your closets, your shoes, everything … it was a nuisance if I can use that word. But that nuisance turned into love over a period of time, just because of the admiration they had for you, as big brothers, big sisters.”
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He added, “When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died”.
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Despite being overcome with emotion, Michael managed to joke about his relationship with the late Lakers star, saying that Kobe used to pester him with questions about basketball.
“The questions, the wanting to know every little detail about life they were about to embark on … he used to call me, text me, 11:30, 2:30, 3:30 in the morning, talking about post-up moves, footwork, and sometimes, the triangle [offense]. At first, it was an aggravation,” Jordan said. “But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had a passion like you would never know. … What Kobe Bryant was for me was the inspiration that someone truly cared about the way 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.”
Jordan even joked about how Kobe would have made fun of him for crying and would’ve likely tuned his tearful speech into a meme.
"I’m gonna have to look at another crying meme" -Michael Jordan pic.twitter.com/7SDIncQK4Z
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“I told my wife I wasn’t going to do this because I didn’t want to see that for the next three or four years,” Jordan said. “That is what Kobe Bryant does to me. He knows how to get to you in a way that affects you personally, even if he’s being a pain in the a*s. He can bring out the best in you, and he did that for me.”
As he concluded his speech, Jordan told his little brother to “rest in peace”.
This comes following an emotional performance by Beyonce at the memorial service.