Tonight’s Basketball Hall of Fame class is one of the strongest we’ve ever had, making tonight’s event bittersweet. Over a year removed from Kobe Bryant‘s tragic death, he has been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and his wife Vanessa Bryant gave a truly incredible speech on his behalf.
Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed on impact of a Jan. 26, 2020 helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. They were on their way to a basketball game at Kobe’s Mama Sports Academy, in which Gianna was set to play.
Kobe Bryant is clearly on the shortlist of greatest NBA players ever. He won five NBA championship, was a two-time NBA Finals MVP, a two-time scoring champion, and an 11-time All-NBA First-Team player. He goes into the Hall of Fame with two other legends of his era: Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.
In his tragic absence, Vanessa stepped in and gave a truly powerful and poignant speech, enshrining him into the Hall of Fame, and cementing his legacy in the game he loved. “You did it. You’re in the Hall of Fame now,” she said, capping the speech she gave for, and to, her late husband. “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.”
No one would have blamed Vanessa Bryant if she struggled to deliver a speech like that. The fact that she did it with such poise and grace was truly impressive, and the NBA world was enthralled by her, and rightfully so.
Vanessa Bryant just embodies strength
— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) May 15, 2021
Vanessa Bryant is just indescribably strong.
— Play-in Game Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 15, 2021
The tears are flowing, what a beautiful speech from Vanessa Bryant
Mamba Forever ♾🐍 pic.twitter.com/ca4uOKc0QT
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) May 15, 2021
Couldn’t even make it 2 minute into Vanessa Bryant’s speech 😭😓
— Coach B Case 🐾 (@A1bcase) May 16, 2021
Vanessa Bryant was AMAZING TONIGHT!!! True Queen!!!! 🙏🏾
— Rayan Lawrence (@RayanLawrence) May 16, 2021
I don’t know how long it will be before my heart doesn’t crack a little bit when I look at Vanessa. She’s a strong woman and isn’t defined by Kobe, but for the moment my heart just breaks every single time.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) May 15, 2021
While it is a shame that we won’t get to hear Kobe Bryant his own speech, which almost definitely would’ve been a memorable one, Vanessa gave her own Hall of Fame speech for the history books.