On Saturday (May 15), Kobe Bryant was posthumously inducted into the 2020 class of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Vanessa Bryant accepted the honor on his behalf and delivered a powerful speech.
Vanessa said, "I used to avoid praising my husband in public because I felt like he got enough praise from his fans around the world and someone had to bring him back to reality. Right now, I'm sure he's laughing in heaven because I'm about to praise him in public for his accomplishments on one of the most public stages. I could see him now, arms folded, with a huge grin saying, 'Isn't this some s---?' He's still winning."
She continued, "I wish my husband was here to accept this incredible award. He and Gigi deserve to be here to witness this. Gigi would be so proud to watch her daddy get enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. I know Kobe was looking forward to being here. He asked the Hall of Fame to specifically add a sixth ticket for Capri, he was so happy.”
The 39-year-old also added, "There will never be anyone like Kobe. Kobe was one of a kind. He was special, he was humble off the court but bigger than life. To all of our close friends and family that have been present for my girls and I, thank you. That list is long and it takes a village but know that your kindness and love does not go unappreciated. I know that Kobe is thankful that you're all coming through for his girls. We love you and are forever grateful for you.’
Bryant also mentioned the people her husband would have acknowledged, "If my husband were here tonight, he would have a long list of people to thank that helped inspire him and equip him to be in the Hall of Fame. Family, friends, mentors, the Lakers, teammates, muses and opponents. This is one of the hard parts of not having him here. At the risk of leaving anyone out, I can only say thank you. To all those who helped him get here, you know who you are and I thank you on his behalf.”
Watch the full speech below:
In January 2020, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were going to a basketball tournament at Mamba Academy in Southern California when they and seven other passengers were killed in a helicopter crash in the hills near Los Angeles.
Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 after winning five championships with the Lakers. Following retirement, he began coaching Gianna, and her basketball team, Team Mamba, named after his NBA nickname. He also won an Oscar for his 2018 animated short film Dear Basketball.
According to Inside Edition, Bryant is one of nine inducted into the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. Bryant was joined by basketball greats Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens and Patrick Baumann.