Live blog: Kobe Bryant and Gianna honored in emotional memorial service

Thousands gathered Monday to pay tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.

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Basketball icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were remembered at an emotional public tribute Monday, as thousands of mourners gathered at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, an organization that "exists to further Kobe and Gianna Bryant's legacy through charitable endeavors in sports," according to its website.

Read the latest updates:

Live Blog

L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke moved by Vanessa's tribute

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke tweeted that Vanessa Bryant's letter to Kobe and Gigi "is the most powerful and courageous moment I’ve seen in Staples Center."

He would know. Plaschke has written for the L.A. Times since 1987 and been a columnist since 1996.

Diana Taurasi, the 'White Mamba,' is one of the greatest in WNBA history

As a child, Diana Taurasi said, she knew exactly who she wanted to be someday: the female Kobe.

The all-time WNBA scoring leader grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Chino, a mere 35 miles east of Staples Center. She told those at the Staples Center that she spent countless hours shooting hoops in her front yard — dreaming she'd be the next Kobe. Eventually, Kobe granted her the ultimate nickname "White Mamba." 

Kobe and Taurasi went on represent America in the 2008 Olympics.

Taurasi played at the University of Connecticut, which Gianna aspired to attend one day.

A doleful fan remembers the player she loved

LOS ANGELES — Monica Wilson drove an hour from Lakewood, California, to be at the Staples Center.

Her father was a referee when she was growing up and the family always watched whatever game was on TV. Basketball was Wilson’s favorite but she never got to see Kobe play in person. From afar, she loved his drive and the example he set for other young people following their passions.

“I feel pride being able to be here today,” she said. “It really hurts — the tragedy that took place — but I’m here today to show how much appreciation I have for him.”

Vanessa on Kobe and Gianna: 'God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other'

At the close of her speech, which highlighted many of the things Gianna and Kobe shared in common, such as the ability to quickly pick up the lyrics to a song, Vanessa said: "God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together."

Kobe gave Vanessa the blue dress from 'The Notebook'

In an emotional tribute, Vanessa reflected on her marriage, saying Kobe called her princesca and reina. 

"I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidante and his protector," Vanessa said. "He was the early bird and I was the night owl. He was fire and I was ice, and vice versa sometimes."

The two planned to renew their vows and "always talked about" how they'd "be the fun grandparents." 

Kobe even gave Vanessa the blue dress from the classic romantic film "The Notebook," because that was the dress the main character, Allie, wore when she returned to her boyfriend in the film. 

"I"m so thankful Kobe heard KoKo say dada," Vanessa said. "He taught us all valuable lessons ... and we're so thankful he left those lessons and stories behind for us ... We're still the best team." 

Michael Jordan helps Vanessa Bryant off the stage

NBA legend Michael Jordan helped Vanessa Bryant off the stage following her emotional tribute.

Vanessa Bryant is helped off the stage by former NBA player Michael Jordan after speaking during a celebration of life for her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Mourners receive commemorative items

Vanessa Bryant says Gigi had so much more to offer this world

Vanessa reflected on all of the milestones she will never get to share with Gigi, such as her walking down the aisle on her wedding day or her father-daughter dance.

“Gianna would have been an amazing mommy,” she said. 

An aspiring WNBA star, Gianna advocated for women in the league to be paid fairer wages, Vanessa said, adding that "Gigi" would have been "the best player in the WNBA."

Vanessa Bryant remembers daughter Gigi as her 'best friend'

Vanessa Bryant thanked fans from around the world for their love and support. In his introduction of Vanessa, Jimmy Kimmel said the crowd would hear from the person Kobe and Gianna loved the most. Vanessa described Gianna as one of her best friends. 

Jimmy Kimmel fights back tears in stirring tribute

Jimmy Kimmel's voice shook and tears streamed down his face as he paid tribute to the victims of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna.

The late-night host said it was difficult to find meaning in their tragic deaths, but he implored the crowd to be grateful for the time they have with the ones they love.

Kobe and Beyonce's dad once played one-on-one

It wasn't an ankle breaker, but Beyonce's dad once showed off some smooth moves against Kobe.

Kobe made an appearance on the video of the Destiny’s Child 1999 hit "Bug-A-Boo"  — so of course, Beyonce's dad, Matthew Knowles, challenged the then-budding NBA great to some one-on-one. Kobe wasn't playing the toughest defense when Knowles took it to hole for a lay-up.

“I don’t think he made another basket after that," Kobe fondly recalled in a Fox Sports interview.

Was there any trash talk? 

"I don't remember trash talk," Kobe said before correcting his memory, "Well I think I did."