Shaquille O'Neal earned major points with Kobe Bryant fans during his speech at the NBA legend's celebration of life Monday for acknowledging his late friend's parents, Joe and Pam Bryant, as well as his sisters Sharia and Shaya, despite the complicated family dynamic that existed through most of Kobe's adult life. While Kobe's family did not speak at the public memorial, which was held nearly a month after the athlete and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed alongside seven other victims in a helicopter crash, O'Neal did send love to them in his emotional speech.
"To Vanessa and the kids, Kobe's parents, sisters and the families who lost a loved one on that tragic day, we grieve with you," he said. "All of us were forever changed on January 26th."
Many on Twitter felt the acknowledgement was a class act by the former Chicago Bulls player.
It's nice that Shaq also acknowledge Kobe's parents and siblings. #KobeFarewell— Vernetta R. Freeney (@VRFreeney) February 24, 2020
They were there. Shaq is the only one who acknowledged them. Everyone spoke about #kobe as an adult. No mention of his childhood or pictures of him as a kid with his parents and sisters. It was like he hatched from an egg at 18 in the NBA. #KobeFarewell #kobememorial— Renee (@ReneeRevelation) February 24, 2020
O'Neal had plenty more to say about his late friend, promising to care for his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and their three other daughters.
"Mamba, you were taken away from us way too soon. Your next chapter of life was just beginning," he said. "But now it's time for us to continue your legacy. You said yourself that everything negative, pressure, challenges is all opportunity for me to rise. So now take the sage advice and now rise from anguish and begin with the healing."
"Just know that we got your back, little brother, I'll look after things down here, I'll be sure to teach Natalia, Bianka and baby Capri all your moves," he continued. "And I promise I will not teach them my free throw techniques."
Photo credit: Bennett Raglin, Getty