Two months after Kobe Bryant’s tragic death, the basketball player is set to receive his biggest honor yet. The L.A. Lakers legend was elected to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The 2020 class was announced on Saturday, April 5, with the superstar headlining the bunch. The exciting news elicited Kobe’s wife Vanessa and eldest daughter Natalia to give their first interview since his and daughter Gigi’s shocking passing.
Clearly emotional, Vanessa and Natalia gave a live video interview with ESPN from their home quarantine. “It's an incredible accomplishment and honor and we are extremely proud of him,” Vanessa said. “Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate, 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."— ESPN (@espn) April 4, 2020
Vanessa and Natalia Bryant joined Rece Davis after Kobe's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. pic.twitter.com/HX31pyvgPe
Vanessa went on to add that this announcement has given the family some comfort: “We are incredibly proud of him and there's some solace in knowing that he was probably going to be a part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class.” The L.A. native also reacted to the announcement on social media, writing: “I love and miss you so much, Papi.”
It’s clear the athlete deserves this accolade. Kobe was the all-time leading scorer for the Lakers over the course of his 20-year career. “He was one of the greatest competitors who stepped on the court and made sure his impact was felt on both sides of the ball," the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts issued in a statement.
The athlete passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26 with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.