The ceremony took place, Saturday, May 15th, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Springfield, Mass. The night of happiness and celebration for the 2020 class inductees, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Time Duncan, turned into a tribute for the NBA Legend. Kobe passed January 2020 in a helicopter crash that killed his daughter Gianna “GiGi” Bryant and several others.
The mother of four took to the stage dressed in a purple pantsuit and accepted the honor on behalf of her husband and the father of her children.
“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,” she begins. “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,” Vanessa imagines. “Arms folded, with a huge grin saying ‘Isn’t this some sh*t.”
The audience roared with laughter and applause.
“I wish my husband was here to accept this incredible award,” she confesses. “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. I know Kobe was really looking forward to being here.”
“When he first heard that he was being considered for the induction, Kobe planned to ask for an additional ticket for his youngest daughter, Capri.” All three of his daughters attended the ceremony and were captured posing with his award.
“There will never be anyone like Kobe,” Vanessa proclaims. “He was one of a kind. He was special. He was humble, off the court, but bigger than life. I don’t have a speech prepared for my husband because he winged every single speech. He was intelligent, eloquent, and gifted at many things, including public speaking. However, I do know he would thank everyone that helped him get here, including the people that doubted him and the people who worked against him and told him he couldn’t attain his goals.”
“He would thank them for motivating him to be here,” she concludes. “After all, he proved you wrong.”
“Kobe had many accomplishments: five-time NBA Champion, five-time New York Times bestselling author, 18-time All-Star, a league MVP and two-time Finals MVP, two-time Olympic gold medal winner. He’s also the first professional athlete to win an Oscar. The list goes on, but his most cherished accomplishment was being the very best girl dad,” Vanessa shares. “Usually, people thank everyone who has helped them get here. But since I don’t have Kobe’s specific list, 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 also being an amazing family man.”
After thanking Kobe for their family, Vanessa ended her speech congratulating her husband for his induction into the hall of fame.
“Congratulations, Baby,” Vanessa concludes. “All of your hard work and sacrifice has paid off. You once told me, if you’re going to bet on someone, bet on yourself. I’m glad you 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 not just an MVP; you’re an all-time great.”