The mother of four spoke on Kobe’s behalf as the Lakers legend was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. During the ceremony, she gave a moving speech about her late husband’s career and revealed just how much he was looking forward to the Hall of Fame ceremony, speaking about it just a week before his tragic death.
“Last February, I called Michael and asked if he would introduce Kobe tonight and he graciously accepted. Thank you for being here, Michael. Kobe admired you, this means so much to us,” Vanessa said to Michael Jordan, who presented Bryant into the Hall of Fame.
She went on to joke about her relationship with the iconic baller, whom she admittedly tried to humble off-the-court, since he got so much praise elsewhere.
“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,” Vanessa said. “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 know, arms folded, with a huge grin saying, ‘Isn’t this some s**t?’ He’s still winning.”
Bryant went on to mention her daughters, including Gianna Bryant, who was killed alongside her father in the tragic helicopter crash in 2020. Throughout her speech, she highlighted just how much Kobe loved being a girl dad, thanking her daughters for sacrificing time with their dad so he could reach his goals.
“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 Bryant matriarch continued.
Offering some praise to Michael Jordan, Vanessa mentioned how much her late husband appreciated his fans because of his days seeing his favorite player on the court.
“People don’t know this but one of the reasons my husband played through injuries and pain was because he remembered being a little kid sitting in the nosebleeds with his dad to watch his favorite player play,” she said before looking at Jordan’s direction as the crowd cheered them on.
“He could recall the car ride, the convos and the excitement of being lucky enough to have a seat in the arena. Kobe didn’t want to disappoint his fans, especially the ones in the 300 sections that saved up to watch him play,” she said. “The kids with the same excitement he once had. I remember I asked him why he couldn’t sit a game out because he was hurting, he said, ‘What about the fans who saved up to watch me play just once?’ He never forgot about his fans. If he could help it, he would play every minute of every game, he loved you all so much.”
Kobe Bryant was selected as part of the Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 alongside Celtics legend Kevin Garnett and Spurs great Tim Duncan, as well as WNBA star Tamika Catchings, coaches Kim Mulkey, Rudy Tomjanovich, Barbara Stevens and Eddie Sutton.