Just weeks after Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna passed away during a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, former President Barack Obama is remembering the late athlete. It was a bittersweet moment as basketball players from around the country gathered in Chicago for a weekend of NBA All-Star festivities — and the former POTUS demonstrated that the former Lakers legend was on his mind while speaking at the NBA All-Star Weekend Newsmaker Brunch. Barack Obama’s speech about Kobe Bryant’s death called the tragedy "heartbreaking" as he sent his condolences to the families of the nine people killed in the crash.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, the former president struck a more somber tone as he reflected on the legacies of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and late NBA commissioner David Stern in the midst of a celebratory weekend. While he admitted that he was "still grappling" with the loss of the legendary basketball star, Obama said that as a fellow parent, "nothing is more heartbreaking" than the passing of Bryant's eldest daughter.
Addressing the crowd at the brunch, Obama brought up the Jan. 26 tragedy and the nine victims of the crash, saying, "That loss is something I know many are still grappling with. Particularly Kobe, because he was with his daughter and those families and those children. And those of us who have had the joy and privilege of being parents and taking kids to ball games and then rooting for our children and seeing our dreams and hopes passed on to them, nothing is more heartbreaking."
"And so I want to offer the NBA family Michelle and my deepest condolences," he added, getting openly emotional. "And obviously the families of the Sterns and the Bryants."
Mamba fans will have another chance to say goodbye to the late star and honor the other victims of the helicopter crash during a public memorial which will take place at the Staples Center on Feb. 24.
Individuals have until Monday, Feb. 17 at 10 p.m. PT to head to the website to register to purchase tickets for the event, which will run between $24.02 to $224 as a nod to the basketball jerseys worn by the late star and his daughter.
Because there's already a huge demand for the tickets, the Lakers say that they will randomly pick among all the fans who registered and will let them know via email on Tuesday if they will be able to purchase tickets and send them personal access codes. These fans will be able to use the codes to buy seats on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. PT.
All proceeds from the Celebration of Life memorial will go towards Kobe and Gianna Bryant's legacy benefitting the new Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, so it's a pretty meaningful way to remember the late star and his daughter by giving back to a cause they believed in.