Vanessa Bryant is letting fans know why her eldest daughter, Natalia Bryant, was unable to attend dad Kobe Bryant’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 15, even though she was a memorable part of the Tip-Off event just one day prior.
The late Lakers legend was honored alongside greats like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett this weekend as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020. Vanessa gave a speech on her husband’s behalf during the ceremony, but in the audience, Natalia was noticeably missing from Bryant’s crew of supporters, which included Ciara, Russell Wilson, and LaLa Anthony.
After some fans noticed that Kobe and Vanessa’s 18-year-old daughter was not in the building on Saturday, the mother of four took to Instagram to praise Natalia for doing what she could to honor her father, despite her high school senior prom falling on the same day.
“Natalia almost missed her senior prom last night,” Bryant wrote in an Instagram post, which features her kissing her daughter on the cheek. She went on to explain why she missed her own senior prom, not wanting Natalia to go through the same thing.
“When I was a senior in high school, Kobe and I were engaged and he had a playoff game the night of my prom,” she explained. “Kobe didn’t want me going to prom without him and I didn’t want to go without him. When we heard Natalia’s prom night and Kobe’s Hall of Fame night were on the same night, I looked at Natalia and said, ‘well if it’s any consolation, daddy kept me from going to my prom, so it’s only right that he tried to keep you from going to yours.’ 😃 Of course we laughed because even in heaven, he’s still trying to make moves and keep the boys away.”
Vanessa wrapped up her post by explaining why it was so important for Natalia to have this experience, citing the fact that she’s already lost so much.
“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,” she concluded. “Thank you for flying out to accept daddy’s Hall of Fame jacket and fly home the next morning.”
Of course, Natalia wasn’t completely absent from the emotional events that weekend, accepting Kobe’s posthumous jacket and ring on May 14. Vanessa then placed the jacket on her daughter, which led to the crowd chanting Kobe’s name.