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Read Jimmy Kimmel’s speech from Kobe Bryant memorial

Jimmy Kimmel speaks during a memorial service for Kobe and Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on Sunday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

“Well, you picked the wrong person to guide you through, I’m going to tell you that right now. I want to thank everyone for being here and thank you for gathering to celebrate the lives of Alyssa Altobelli, her parents John and Keri Altobelli, and Payton Chester, her mother Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, Gigi Bryant, and her father, Kobe Bryant.

“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. And I’m honored to have been asked to speak here. The proceeds from the tickets you bought go directly to the Mamba [&] Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports in underserved communities.

“And I also encourage you to go to MambaOnTthree.org, to give to the Mamba in Three Fund, which was created to honor and provide financial support to the Chester, Altobelli, Zobayan and Mauser families. I can only imagine how painful this is for them. I don’t think any of us could have imagined this.

“Everywhere you go, you see his face, his number. Gigi’s face, Gigi’s number. Everywhere at every intersection. There are hundreds of murals painted by artists who are inspired, not because he is a basketball player but because Kobe was an artist too. And not just in L.A., across the country and Kobe’s hometown, Philadelphia, in Italy, in India, the Philippines, China, New York, Phoenix, Boston, for God’s sake.

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Vanessa Bryant, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal were among the speakers at a memorial service honoring the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant at Staples Center.

“In places where you would be booed on the court, Kobe is missed. Even a great Boston Celtic, Bill Russell, wore No. 24 and a Lakers jersey to yesterday’s game. I knew he would come to us eventually.

“Today we’re 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, who left behind parents, friends, co-workers, classmates, siblings and children.

“I’ve been trying to come up with something positive to take away from this and it was hard because there isn’t much. But the best thing I think I was able to come up with is this: gratitude. It seems to me that all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them. And for the time we have left with each other. And that’s all.

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“In the Catholic Church, you know, which the Bryant family is part of, at Mass we share the sign of peace. This is a moment to hug or shake hands with people around you. It occurred to me that that is something that only seems to happen at church, and at sporting events.

“When perfect strangers who love the same team are suddenly hugging and high-fiving and celebrating together and so, since we are here today to celebrate, I’d like to invite you right now 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.”


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