Vanessa Bryant Speaks Publicly for the First Time Since Kobe and Gianna's Deaths

Vanessa Bryant is thanking fans for their support after the death of her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

Vanessa attended Kobe and Gianna's memorial on Monday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where she spoke publicly for the first time since their tragic deaths on Jan. 26. Kobe and Gianna, as well as seven other victims, died after a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

Clearly emotional, Vanessa received a standing ovation before addressing the crowd.

"Thank you so much for being here. It means so much to us, the outpouring of love and support from around the world has been so uplifting," she said before sharing memories first of Gianna. "My baby girl, Gianna Bryant, is an amazingly sweet and gentle soul, she would kiss me every morning and every night."

"She was daddy's girl but I know she loved mama, and she would always show me and tell me how much she loved me," she continued. "She was one of my very best friends."

She remembered that Gianna loved baking and was competitive like her father.

"Her smile took up her entire face, like mine," she said. "Kobe always said she was me she had my fire, my personality... she was tender and loving on the inside. She had the best laugh, it was infectious, it was pure and genuine. Kobe and Gianna naturally gravitated toward each other."

Vanessa praised Gianna as a great athlete and noted that she was also great at academics, and had so much "swag."

"She was a nice person, a leader, a teacher ... she gave the best hugs and kisses," she remembered, fighting back tears. " ... I miss looking at her beautiful face."

"I won't be able to see her go to high school with [sister] Natalia, I won't be able to see her walk down the aisle," she continued, breaking down in tears. "Or have a father daughter-dance with her daddy and have babies of her own. ... She probably would have been the best player in the WNBA. She would have made a huge difference in the way women are viewed in sports."

Vanessa, 37, has been mourning her devastating loss on Instagram, which she made public after Kobe and Gianna's deaths. Vanessa met Kobe during a music video shoot in 1999 while she was still in high school and he was just 20 years old. They got engaged when she turned 18, and they got married in April 2001.

On Jan. 29, Vanessa spoke out about how she and her daughters -- 17-year-old Natalia, 3-year-old Bianka and 8-month-old Capri -- were coping with their unfathomable family loss.

"We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe -- the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri," she wrote in part. "There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon."

"I'm not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it's impossible to imagine life without them," she continued. "But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless -- and that's to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever."

For more on how Vanessa has been handling Kobe and Gianna's deaths, watch the video below:


Inside Kobe Bryant's Relationship With Wife Vanessa and Their 4 Daughters

Vanessa Bryant Posts Tribute Ahead of Gianna and Kobe's Memorial

Vanessa Bryant Posts Valentine's Day Message for Kobe and Gianna