Vanessa Bryant Delivers Incredible Speech to Honor Kobe Bryant at Basketball Hall of Fame Ceremony

Kobe Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, shared a heartfelt speech during the late athlete's posthumous induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 15. Scroll to read her message.

By Alyssa Morin, Kaitlin Reilly May 16, 2021 12:04 AMTags
Watch: Remembering Kobe Bryant's Journey: E! News Rewind

Kobe Bryant's basketball legacy lives on.

On Saturday, May 15, the athlete—who tragically died in a helicopter crash in January 2020, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others—was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020.

Ahed of his award, the ceremony remembered his life and legacy with a moving video about his legendary basketball career. Michael Jordan walked Vanessa Bryant up the stage, who accepted the award on behalf of her late husband. 

Vanessa, Kobe's widow and mother to their childrenNatalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 23 months, delivered a heartfelt speech at the event. 

"I'm okay. Love you," Vanessa began, blowing a kiss to her kids. "Last February, I called Michael and asked him if he would introduce Kobe tonight and he graciously accepted. Thank you for being here, Michael."

She then moved on to celebrate her husband, saying, "Kobe admired you. This means so much to us. I used to always avoid praising my husband in public because I felt like he got enough praise from his fans. Along the road, someone had to bring him back to reality."

photos
Kobe Bryant's Family Attends Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

"Right now, I am sure he is laughing in heaven because I'm about to praise him in public for his accomplishments on one of the most public stages," she continued. "I can see him now, arms folded, with a huge grin saying, 'Isn't this some s--t?!'"

"I wish my husband was here to accept this incredible award," she shared. "He and Gigi deserve to go here to witness this. Gigi would be so proud to watch her daddy get enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame. I know he was looking forward to being here."

Instagram

She continued, "He asked the Hall of Fame to specifically add a sixth ticket for a Capri. He was so happy. He didn't really talk about upcoming awards, but he did mention this one a week before he and Gigi passed. My husband and I were sitting at our kitchen island and he and I had a conversation about my mother- and father-in-law attending tonight's enshrinement. I invited my mother- and father-in-law to tonight's enshrinement to thank them for bringing one of the most amazing human beings into this world."

"Pam and Joe, thank you for raising Kobe to be exceptional. Thank you to all of Kobe's family, Sharia, you have gone above and beyond. I love you," she gushed. "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."

She added, "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 are all coming through for his girls. We love you all and are forever grateful for you."

Vanessa also thanked those who supported Kobe throughout his career, including his family, friends, mentors and Lakers teammates. She celebrated his dedication to the sport, sharing, "Kobe's personal stats speak for themselves. Kobe was on a different level. He never took shortcuts when it came to basketball. He gave this game his all. Kobe played through injury after injury."

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Most importantly, she took a moment to praise Kobe for being a wonderful husband and father.

"His most cherished accomplishment was being the very best girl dad," she expressed. "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."

"Dear Kobe, thank you for being the best husband and father you could possibly be," she continued. "Thank you for growing and learning from your own mistakes. Thank you for always trying to do better. Thank you for never giving up on us. Thank you for all of your hard work. Thank you for our family. Thank you for our daughters. Natalia, Gianna, Bianca and Capri. Thank you for working so tirelessly to provide for us and for giving us the most amazing life together."

When discussing their relationship, she shared, "Thank you for teaching me and all of us to put someone else's joy before our own. Thank you for being so selfless and loving with a heart of gold. Thank you for never taking yourself too seriously. Thank you for your sense of humor. Thank you for your wit. Thank you for never telling me no. And always letting me have my way, most of the time."

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

"To our girls, Natalia and Gianna, thank you for sacrificing so much time away from daddy so that he could focus on being the best at everything he set his mind," she added. "He loves you girls so very much. Congratulations, baby. All of your hard work and sacrifices paid off. You once told me, 'If you are going to bet on someone, bet on yourself.' I'm glad you bet on yourself, your overachiever. You did it. You're in the hall of fame now."

She concluded, "You're a true champ. You're not just an MVP. You're an all-time great. I'm so proud of you. I love you forever and always. Kobe Bryant."

In addition to Kobe's posthumous honor, the ceremony also inducted basketball stars, the late Patrick BaumannTamika CatchingsTim DuncanKevin GarnettKim MulkeyBarbara StevensEddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich.

Moreover, Kobe's life was celebrated during the In Memoriam portion of the ceremony, in which footage appeared onscreen of the 41-year-old star. Ne-Yo performed "Incredible" during the segment.

On Friday, May 14, Vanessa and Natalia honored Kobe at the Tip-Off Celebration and Awards Gala, a preliminary event for the induction ceremony. They were presented with the basketball icon's posthumous red 2020 Hall of Fame jacket and ring, which Vanessa placed on Natalia as the crowd chanted her dad's name. 

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Back in March, Vanessa opened up about how her loved ones are her source of strength.

"I guess the best way to describe it is that Kobe and Gigi motivate me to keep going," she told People in a cover interview on Wednesday, March 3. "They inspire me to try harder and be better every day. Their love is unconditional and they motivate me in so many different ways."

She continued, "There are days when I feel like I can't deal with everything that is on my plate, and I ask myself what my husband would say to me or how Gigi would look at me in a certain manner and be proud of me. I want to make Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka and Capri proud."

"I can't say that I'm strong every day," Vanessa expressed, adding, "I can't say that there aren't days when I feel like I can't survive to the next. My girls help me smile through the pain. They give me strength."

Watch Daily Pop weekdays at 11 a.m., only on E!.