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Read Vanessa Bryant’s words about Kobe Bryant at his memorial

Michael Jordan helps Vanessa Bryant off the stage at the memorial at Staples Center.
Michael Jordan helps Vanessa Bryant off the stage at Monday’s memorial at Staples Center.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

OK. Now for my soul mate. Kobe was known as a fierce competitor on the basketball court. The greatest of all time, a writer and Oscar winner, and the black mamba. But to me, he was Kobe-Kobe, my boo-boo, my bay-boo. My papi chulo. I was his Vivi, his principessa, his reina, his queen Mamba. ... I couldn’t see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player.

He was my sweet husband, and the beautiful father of our children. He was mine. He was my everything. Kobe and I have been together since I was 17½ years old. I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend. His confidant, and his protector. He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. He was the early bird, and I was the night owl. I was fire, he was ice and vice versa at times. We balanced each other out. He would do anything for me. I have no idea how I deserved a man that loved and wanted me more than Kobe. He was charismatic, a gentleman. He was loving, adoring and romantic.

He was truly the romantic one in our relationship. I look forward to Valentine’s Day and our anniversaries every year. He plans special anniversary trips, and a special traditional gift for every year of our marriage. He even had made my most treasured gifts. He just thought outside the box; it was so thoughtful, even while working hard to be the best athlete. He gave me the actual notebook and the blue dress Rachel McAdams wore in “The Notebook” movie. When I asked him why he chose the blue dress, he said because it was the scene when Allie comes back to Noah. We had hoped to grow all together like the movie.

We really had an amazing love story. We loved each other with our whole beings. Two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family, and raising our sweet and amazing girls.

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A couple of weeks before they passed, Kobe sent me a sweet text and mentioned how he wanted to spend time together. Just the two of us without our kids, because I’m his best friend first. We never got the chance to do it.

We were busy taking care of our girls and just doing our regular, everyday responsibilities. But I’m thankful I have that recent text. It means so much to me. Kobe wanted us to renew our vows. He wanted Natalia to take over his company, and he wanted to travel the world together.

We always talked about how we would be the fun grandparents to our daughters’ children. He would have been the coolest grandpa. Kobe was the MVP of girl dads, or MVD.

He never left the toilet seat up. He always told the girls how beautiful and smart they are. He taught them how to be brave and how to keep pushing forward when things get tough. And when Kobe retired from the NBA, he took over dropping off and picking up our girls from school since I was at home pregnant with Bianca and just recently home nursing Capri. When Kobe was still playing, I used to show up an hour early to be the first in line to pick up Natalia and Gianna from school, and I told him he couldn’t drop the ball once he took over.

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He was late one time. And we most definitely let him know that I was never late. So he showed up one hour and 20 minutes early after that. He always knew there was room for improvement, and wanted to do better. He happily did carpool and enjoyed spending time in the car with our girls. He was a doting father, a father that was hands-on and present.

He helped me bathe Bianca and Capri almost every night. He would sing the silly songs in the shower and continue making them laugh and smile as he lathered them with lotion and got them ready for bed. He had magic arms that could put Capri to sleep in only a few minutes. He said he had it down to a science, eight times up and down our hallway. He loved taking Bianca to Fashion Island to watch her play in the koi pond area, and loved taking her to park. Their most recent visit to the koi pond was the evening before he and Gigi passed.

He shared a love of movies and the breakdown of films with Natalia. He enjoyed renting out theaters and taking Natalia to watch the newest “Star Wars” movie or Harry Potter films. And they would have movie marathons and he enjoyed every second of it. He loved your typical tear-jerkers too. He liked watching “Step Mom,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Little Women.” He had a tender heart. Kobe somehow knew where I was at all times, specifically when I was late to his games. He would worry about me if I wasn’t in my seat at the start of each game and would ask security where I was at the first time-out of the first quarter.

And my smart ass would tell him that he wasn’t going to drop 81 points within the first 10 minutes of the game. I think anyone with kids understands that sometimes we can’t make it out the door on time. And eventually he was used to my tardiness and balled out. The fact that he could play on an intense professional level and still be concerned by making sure we made it to the game safely was just another example of how family came first to him. He loved being Gianna’s basketball coach.

He told me he wished he would have convinced Natalia to play basketball, so they could have spent even more time together. But he also wanted her to pursue her own passion. He watched Natalia play a volleyball tournament on her birthday on Jan. 19 and he noticed how she’s a very intelligent player. He was convinced she would made a great point guard with her vision of the court. And he told me that he wanted Bianca and Capri to take up basketball, when they get older, so he could spend just as much time with them as he did with Gigi. And Kobe always told Bianca and Capri that they were going to grow up and play basketball and “mix they ass up.”

Now they won’t have their daddy and sister here to teach them, and that is truly a loss I do not understand. But I’m so thankful Kobe heard Koko say “dada.” He isn’t going to be here to drop Bianca and Capri off at pre-K or kindergarten. He isn’t going to be here to tell me to “get a grip, V,” when we have to leave the kindergarten classroom, or show up to our daughters’ doctor’s visits for my own emotional support.

He isn’t going to be able to walk our girls down the aisle or spin me around the dance floor while singing “PYT” to me. But I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband and father he was, the kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better, and keep them from making his own mistakes. He always liked working and doing projects to improve kids’ lives. He taught us all valuable lessons about life and sports through his NBA career, his books, his show detail and his “Punies” podcast.

And we’re so thankful he left those lessons and stories behind for us. He was thoughtful and wrote the best love letters and cards, and Gigi had his wonderful ability to express her feelings to pick up paper and make you feel her love through her words. She was thoughtful like him. They were so easy to love, everyone naturally gravitated toward them. They were funny, happy, silly, and they loved life. They were so full of joy and adventure. God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together.

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Babe, you take care of our Gigi, and I got Nani, BB, and Koko. We are still the best team. We love and miss you booboo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace, and have fun in Heaven until we meet again. We love you both, and miss you. Forever and always, Mommy.


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