As she sat next to their daughter, Natalia, Vanessa Bryant, 37, called her late husband’s induction an “incredible” accomplishment and honor.
“We’re extremely proud of him. Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate,” Bryant told ESPN in a video interview from her suburban Los Angeles home. The NBA Hall of Fame ceremony takes places in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“But it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here. We’re incredibly proud of him and rest in solace knowing that he was probably going to be a part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class.”
Kobe Bryant, 41, and their second-oldest daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, 12, aka Mambacita, died when a helicopter they were riding in crashed in
Calabasas, California, on January 26, killing seven others in the process.
Due to overwhelming worldwide sentiment, the NBA announced the Black Mamba would be inducted into the Hall immediately instead of the requisite five-year post-retirement waitng period. Therefore the late Bryant was posthumously inducted with one-time NBA champ Kevin Garnett and five-time titleholder Tim Duncan into the class of 2020.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss also celebrated Byant’s immediate induction.
“Kobe was not only a proven winner and a champion, he gave everything he had to the game of basketball,” she told ESPN. “His fierce competitiveness, work ethic and drive were unmatched. Those qualities helped Kobe lead us to five titles – and have now brought him to the Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined with the greatest to have ever played the game. No one deserves it more.”
Flip the page to listen to Vanessa Bryant’s words: