Jimmy Kimmel fought back tears as he took center stage at Monday's public memorial for Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant. One of a select few speakers at the emotional farewell to the nine victims of the crash, Kimmel took the stage just after Beyonce's emotional performance of "XO" and "Halo."
"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 so many of the best times of our lives," Kimmel, his voice trembling, began after reading off the names of the nine victims. "I'm honored to have been asked to speak here."
Kimmel went on remind those in attendance that proceeds from ticket sales went to the Mamba On Three foundation as well as Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, also encouraging those watching from home to donate in the victims' honor.
"I don't think any of us could have imagined this," Kimmel continued. "Everywhere you go, you see his face, his number. Gigi's face, Gigi's number. At every intersection. There are hundreds of murals painted by artists who are inspired not because he was a basketball player, but because Kobe was an artist too. And not just in LA, but across the country, in Kobe's hometown in Philadelphia, in Italy, in India, the Philippines, China, New York…in places where he would be booed on the court, Kobe is missed."
"Today we are joined by Kobe's teammates and opponents alike, his friends, his family, and his fans as we try to make sense of what happened to these nine beautiful people who were by all accounts so full of life," Kimmel said, adding that he had been struggling to "come up with something positive to take away from this."0comments
"It seems to me that all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them and the time we have left with each other, and that's all," Kimmel encouraged those in attendance and watching from home.
Recalling the sign of peace that is performed at Catholic Masses and the moment taken to shake hands at sporting events, Kimmel ended his speech by encouraging the audience to "take a moment to say hello to the people around you whether you know them or not, to be grateful for life and for the fact that we are all here together."