Kobe, Gianna Bryant laid to rest in private ceremony

MANILA, Philippines – Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna have been laid to rest in a private Los Angeles funeral, US media reported Tuesday, February 11 (Wednesday, February 12, Philippine time). 

The ceremony was held last Friday at the Pacific View Mortuary in Corona Del Mar, two weeks after they died in a helicopter crash along with 7 others.

Reports said the Bryant family wanted a “private service to mourn their loss.”

public memorial will be held on February 24 at the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers where Kobe starred for 20 seasons.

The 2-24 memorial date holds symbolism as Kobe wore the No. 24 jersey while Gianna sported No. 2. (READ: Vanessa Bryant announces 'celebration of life' for Kobe and Gianna)

Vanessa, wife of the late NBA legend, said her “brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone.”

"I’ve been reluctant to put my feelings into words," Vanessa wrote in an Instagrom post on Monday.

"My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can’t process both at the same time. It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong. Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn’t being able to have that opportunity?! I’m so mad. She had so much life to live."

Screengrab from Instagram/@vanessabryant

Vanessa said it feels like a “nightmare,” but knows she needs strength to care for her 3 other daughters. 

"Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters," she said. "Mad I’m not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I’m here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri. I know what I’m feeling is normal. It’s part of the grieving process. I just wanted to share in case there’s anyone out there that’s experienced a loss like this. God I wish they were here and this nightmare would be over. Praying for all of the victims of this horrible tragedy. Please continue to pray for all."

Investigation

Wreckage at the scene of the helicopter crash in a rugged terrain west of Los Angeles on January 26 showed no evidence of engine failure, a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said last Friday.

A final report identifying the cause of the crash is expected to take at least a year to complete.

Investigators from the NTSB and other bodies are considering what role heavy fog that Sunday morning might have played.

Also killed in the crash were Gianna’s basketball teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, Alyssa's parents John and Keri Altobelli, Payton's mother Sarah Chester, basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.

They were heading to a girls' basketball tournament at Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy in suburban Thousand Oaks having departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

The deaths rocked the NBA and the sporting world as well as fans worldwide of the iconic Kobe, who won 5 NBA titles playing for all of his 20-year career with the Lakers. 

– With a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler