On May 15, in an emotional speech at her late husband’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa delivered a heartfelt reminder why the NBA legend will be missed. Kobe, along with the couple’s daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Vanessa, who shares three more daughters with Kobe — Natalia, Bianka, Capri — noted that the NBA icon didn’t enjoy accepting awards, but the Hall of Fame was an exception. “He asked the Hall of Fame to specifically add a sixth ticket for Capri,” she told the crowd at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Connecticut.
Vanessa revealed her husband’s famous propensity for playing through injuries was because “he didn’t want to disappoint his fans.” (Kobe himself told ESPN in 2016, “There’s times when it’s a little too much, but I do find the beauty in that.”) Two of those people Kobe would have wanted Vanessa to thank are his parents, Pam and Joe, which she did despite having had a notoriously tumultuous relationship in the past (as The Sun reported, they even skipped Kobe and Vanessa’s 2001 wedding). Vanessa concluded her heartwarming tribute with advice Kobe once imparted. “He once told me, if you’re going to bet on someone, bet on yourself,” she said before adding, “I’m glad you bet on yourself, you overachiever.”
Vanessa’s tribute was met with a standing ovation, but one notable person was missing. Keep scrolling for why Kobe’s daughter Natalia skipped the ceremony.
Natalia Bryant had another 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity' to attend
Natalia Bryant did miss her late father Kobe’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 15 — but she also nearly missed her own senior prom because of it, too. As her mom Vanessa’s Instagram post revealed, Natalia’s prom and Kobe’s commemoration coincided on the same night. “Natalia’s experienced so much loss, I couldn’t let her miss out on her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to her senior prom,” Vanessa touchingly noted.
Vanessa also shared that Natalia had flown to Connecticut the night before Kobe’s ceremony at Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort to accept her father’s Hall of Fame jacket and flew back to Los Angeles the next morning. Musing on how the five-time NBA champion had a basketball game that prevented the two from attending Vanessa’s own prom, she jokingly wrote, “I looked at Natalia and said, ‘well… daddy kept me from going to my prom, so it’s only right that he tried to keep you from going to yours.'”
Vanessa added, “Of course we laughed because even in heaven, he’s still trying to make moves and keep the boys away.”
It looks like Vanessa is setting a model example by handling her family tragedy with grace, candor, and even laughter.
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