Vanessa Bryant is thanking daughter Natalia for the lengths she traveled to pay tribute to dad Kobe Bryant over the weekend.
The late NBA superstar was honored as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020 during an induction ceremony that took place on Saturday, May 15. It had previously been delayed for eight months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After some fans noticed that Kobe and Vanessa's eldest daughter did not attend the ceremony on Saturday, May 15, Vanessa took to Instagram the following day to praise Natalia, 18, for doing what she could to honor her father, despite her high school senior prom happening to fall on the same day.
On May 16, Vanessa posted a selfie of herself kissing Natalia on the cheek while the teen was wearing a backpack and seemed to be about to catch a flight. The night before the ceremony, Natalia joined her family for the Tip-Off Celebration and Awards Gala on May 14 at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. and then returned to Los Angeles the following morning.
"Natalia almost missed her senior prom last night," Vanessa captioned it. "When I was a senior in high school, Kobe and I were engaged and he had a playoff game the night of my prom. Kobe didn't want me going to prom without him and I didn't want to go without him. When we heard Natalia's prom night and Kobe's Hall of Fame night were on the same night, I looked at Natalia and said, 'well if it's any consolation, daddy kept me from going to my prom, so it's only right that he tried to keep you from going to yours.'"
She continued, "Of course we laughed because even in heaven, he's still trying to make moves and keep the boys away. Natalia's experienced so much loss, I couldn't let her miss out on her once in a lifetime opportunity to go to her senior prom. Thank you for flying out to accept daddy's Hall of Fame jacket and fly home the next morning. #HallofFame #SeniorPromNight."
For her part, Natalia shared the same selfie to her Instagram Story and added, "Love you."
One of the most memorable moments from the weekend's Hall of Fame Class of 2020 events was Vanessa and Natalia accepting Kobe's posthumous jacket and ring on the evening of May 14. Vanessa then placed the jacket on her daughter, leading the crowd to begin chanting Kobe's name.
At the May 15 ceremony, Michael Jordan inducted Kobe, who died Jan. 26, 2020 in a tragic helicopter crash that also killed Kobe's 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other individuals.
In accepting the award on her late husband's behalf, Vanessa gave an emotional speech following Michael's presentation.
"His most cherished accomplishment was being the very best girl dad," she said of Kobe. "I want to thank him for somehow finding ways to dedicate time to not only being an incredible athlete, a visionary, entrepreneur and storyteller, but for also being an amazing family man."
Back in March, Vanessa took to Instagram to celebrate Natalia's acceptance into USC. "I know daddy is so PROUD OF YOU," she posted. "I am so PROUD OF YOU!!"