Vanessa Bryant paid tribute to her late husband Kobe during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony on Saturday in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Speaking at the 2020 Hall of Fame class enshrinement ceremony, which was postponed due to the global pandemic, Kobe’s widow said this was the right occasion for her to heap praise on the NBA legend.
“I used to always 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 Bryant 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 can see him now, arms folded, with a huge grin saying, ‘Isn’t this some shit?’ He’s still winning.”
That said, Vanessa Bryant confessed the occasion was also marked by sadness. She cited the passing of her husband and their daughter, Gigi, in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Nine people died in the accident.
“I wish my husband was here to accept this incredible award,” Bryant said during her speech. “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.”
Vanessa Bryant honors late husband
Like Kobe, who had a knack for hitting big shots at the end of basketball games, Vanessa Bryant’s speech had a strong ending.
“All of your hard work and sacrifice has paid off,” she concluded. “You once told me, if you’re going to bet on someone, bet on yourself. I’m glad you bet on yourself, you overachiever. You did it. You’re in the Hall of Fame now. 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. Bean. Bryant.”