LOS ANGELES (TEGNA) - The NBA legend Michael Jordan was called on stage after an Alicia Keys performance of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," with tears already in his eyes.
During the speech, Michael Jordan told the audience, "when Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died...a piece of you died, or else you wouldn't be here." Jordan spoke of late nights where Kobe Bryant would text him asking for tips on how to improve his skills on the court.
With tears streaming down his face, Jordan said he thought of Kobe Bryant as his little brother. Jordan joked that like little brothers, the younger Bryant was always asking him questions about what to expect as his career with the Los Angeles Lakers started to take off. The crowd laughed at times as Jordan said he received calls from Bryant at all hours, eager to talk about the game, business and family.
Jordan said Bryant was eager to become the best basketball player he could be, and it made him want to be the best big brother he could be. As the tears streamed down his face Jordan referred to a popular image of him used often in memes showing him crying. He joked about how he would now have to deal with new memes showing him crying.
Jordan said Bryant had “passion like you would never know.”
Thousands of mourners gathered at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles Monday to say farewell to Kobe and Gianna Bryant after their tragic death in January.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.