- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Kobe Bryant was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday in what was a highly emotional moment, commemorating the legend’s contributions to the game and the deep reverence held among peers and fans.
Byrant and his daughter, Gianna, along with seven others, were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California in January 2020. News of the death of the Los Angeles Lakers’ icon shocked and devastated fans around the globe.
On Saturday, Bryant’s introduction into hall of fame enshrinement was presented by living-legend and dear friend, Michael Jordan.
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, delivered the acceptance speech.
“Last February, I asked Michael if he would introduce Kobe tonight and he graciously accepted. Kobe admired you. This means so much to us,” Vanessa Bryant began. “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. 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.’ 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 into the Basketball Hall of Fame.”
Bryant continued to share how while her husband did not discuss award shows often, she remembered discussing this ceremony with Kobe a week before his and Gianna’s passing. “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.”
“If my husband were here tonight, he would have a long list of people to thank… family, friends, mentors, the Lakers, teammates, muses and opponents. This is one of the many 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. I don’t have a speech by my husband because he winged every speech. He was intelligent, eloquent and gifted at many things, including public speaking. However I do know that he would thank everyone that helped him get here, including the people that doubted him and the people that worked against him and told him he couldn’t attain his goals. He would thank all of them for helping him to be here. After all, he proved you wrong,” she continued.
Bryant noted that all athletes who enter the Hall of Fame “had to sacrifice a part of their lives to dedicate more time to their craft.” She shared how for her husband, his dedication was “on a different level,” as he played through several injuries — and it was all for his fans.
“People don’t know this but one of the reasons my husband played through injuries and pain was because he said he remembered being a little kid, sitting in the nosebleeds with his dad to watch his favorite player play,” Bryant said, nodding to Jordan standing by her. “He could recall the car ride, the conversations 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 that saved up to watch him play. The kids with the same excitement he once had.”
Vanessa Bryant highlighted her husband’s staggering accomplishments, from on the basketball court to being the first professional athlete to win an Oscar. A career-long Los Angeles Laker (although he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets before a quick trade to L.A.) Bryant won five NBA champions (2000–2002, 2009, 2010) in which he was the NBA Finals MVP twice (2009, 2010). He was also the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2008 and elected to an impressive 18 NBA All-Star games (1998, 2000–2016). He was also a two-time Olympic champion.
“The list goes on,” Bryant shared, “but his most cherished accomplishment was being the very best girl dad. I want to thank my husband. He did the work. He broke those records and he inspired people to be great. 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.”
As Vanessa Bryant finished her speech, she shared a list of many “thank you’s” to her husband.
“Dear Kobe, thank you for being the best husband and father you could possibly be. Thank you for growing and learning from your own mistakes. Thank you for always trying to be 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,” Bryant said. “Thank you for bringing so much joy to our lives and joy for people around the world. Thank you for inspiring us to be better than the day before.”
“Congratulations baby. All of your hard work and sacrifices paid off. 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.”
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day