Shaquille O'Neal Reflects on Kobe Bryant Celebration of Life: 'I Continue to Be Sad That He's Not Here'

Shaquille O'Neal has been open about struggling through his old teammate Kobe Bryant's sudden death, and continued to speak out on Tuesday. The day after the celebration of life memorial service held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to honor Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven other victims of a January helicopter crash, O'Neal discussed his emotions on a TNT NBA postgame show.

After praising Bryant's family and those who helped put on the memorial, he said, "I think we should celebrate what he did and I really continue to be sad that he's not here. And the world's doing a great job. Every time I scroll up, I see videos and pictures of him.

"So of course he won't ever be forgotten but some of us are still suffering a little harder than others. But we just need to move on and just continue to tell each other how great he was," O'Neal concluded.

The former Los Angeles Lakers player was one of the speakers at the event, and brought a much-needed moment of levity to the arena holding 20,000 mourners on Monday, letting an expletive slip while sharing a story from his early days playing with Bryant.

"The day Kobe gained my respect, the guys were complaining, saying, 'Shaq, Kobe's not passing the ball,'" O'Neal, 47, recalled. "I said, 'I'll talk to him.' I said, 'Kobe, there's no I in team.'"

"And Kobe said, 'I know, but there's an M-E in that mothers—er,'" O'Neal revealed, smiling as the crowd erupted in laughter.

The F-bomb was bleeped on some live telecasts, though those who heard it in the room were likely grateful for the comedic relief. Fans watching at home took to Twitter to praise the retired NBA star for that moment in his speech, as well as another — when he acknowledged Bryant's estranged parents, Joe and Pam Bryant, as well as his sisters, Sharia and Shaya.

"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."


O'Neal had plenty more to say to his old friend. "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."