Tearful Michael Jordan commemorates 'little brother' Kobe Bryant

A tearful Michael Jordan on Monday, February 24, remembered his "little brother" Kobe Bryant at a star-filled memorial in Los Angeles for the basketball great and his daughter Gianna, who died with seven others in a helicopter crash last month.

"When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died, and as I look in this arena, across the globe, a piece of you died," the NBA legend said with tears streaming down his face.

"I promise you, from this day forward, I will live with the memories and knowing that I had a little brother," Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest player in history, added. 

"I tried to help in every way I could. Please rest in peace, little brother."

The public memorial – dubbed "A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant" – was held at Staples Center, the arena where Bryant wowed fans for 17 years, and known as "the house that Kobe built."

The 2/24 date carries special significance as it coincides with Bryant's jersey number – "24" – and Gianna's "2" jersey number.

Another basketball legend, Shaquille O'Neal, also spoke at the ceremony, drawing cheers as he recalled the 3 NBA titles that he and Bryant won together.

"Kobe and I have pushed one another to play some of the greatest basketball of all time and I am proud that no other team has accomplished the three-peat the Lakers have done since Shaq-and-the-Kobe Lakers did it," O’Neal said.

He also spoke of their well-known feuding, saying that even though "we fought, bantered or insulted each other with off-handed remarks," there was mutual respect between the pair.

"Make no mistake," O'Neal said. "Folks thought we were on bad terms, (but) when the cameras were turned off, he and I would throw a wink at each other." – Rappler.com