Vanessa Bryant Pays Tribute to Late Husband Kobe Bryant in Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Speech

On Saturday, Vanessa Bryant honored her husband Kobe Bryant at the Class of 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremony, remembering the late NBA legend in an induction speech that she says would have surprised even him. “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,” Bryant explained. “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.”

The Los Angeles Lakers star, who passed away on January 26, 2020 alongside his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash, was inducted this year with fellow basketball greats Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. In her speech, Vanessa Bryant thanked her husband’s parents, Pam and Joe, for “bringing one of the most amazing human beings into this world,” her family, friends, and support network for their help following Kobe’s untimely death, and even the doubters. “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,” said Vanessa. “He would thank all of them for motivating him to be here. After all, he proved you wrong.”

As for Kobe Bryant’s basketball credentials, his “stats speak for themselves,” Vanessa says of her “intelligent, eloquent, and gifted” spouse. An Oscar winner, an author, and a five-time NBA champion, Bryant recalls Kobe’s drive to play even when suffering numerous injuries throughout his career, a decision, she indicates, was inspired by Michael Jordan. “You once told me, ‘If you’re going to bet on someone, bet on yourself,’” Bryant says of the “amazing family man” and “girl dad.” Says Vanessa, “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, not just an MVP. You’re an all-time great.”

Vanessa Bryant Honors Kobe in Hall of Fame Induction Speech