AceShowbiz - Friends, family and fellow athletes have gathered at a memorial service for NBA legend Kobe Bryant and other eight, including his daughter Gianna, in Los Angeles. Taking place at Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, they paid tribute for them who died in a helicopter crash last month. Among those who delivered a moving tribute was Michael Jordan.
"When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died," Jordan opened his speech. "Maybe it surprised people … but we were very close friends. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe," he added, referring about how many people saw him and Bryant as fierce competitors.
Jordan said that Bryant had come to him for advice during his career, noting that the "aggravation" soon "turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion like you would never know … As I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be."
Elsewhere in the speech, Jordan appeared to try to lift up the mood by joking about his viral "Crying Jordan" meme. "Now [Kobe's] got me … I got to look at another crying meme for the next.... I told my wife I wasn't gonna [cry], because I didn't want to see [another crying meme] for the next three to four years," the 57-year-old said while wiping away his tears on stage in front of 20,000+ people.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter, who were among the victims in the Calabasas incident on January 26, were laid to rest earlier this month in a private burial in California. The seven others killed in the helicopter crash are John Altobelli, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College, his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser, an assistant basketball coach at Kobe's Mamba Sports Academy; Payton Chester, who played on the team; her mother, Sarah Chester; and Ara Zobayan, the pilot.