Kobe Bryant Brings His Whole Family - Including Baby Bianka! - to Jersey Retirement Ceremony
A celebration of Kobe Bryant‘s athletic career turned into a family affair — after all, it’s not every day that two of your jersey numbers get retired.
The legendary basketball star was flanked by his wife, Vanessa, and their three daughters as the Los Angeles Lakers placed 8 and 24 — both numbers worn by Bryant during his 20-year career — among the previous honorees on the Staples Center wall at Monday night’s ceremony.
Bryant, 39, arrived at the stadium pushing a baby carriage holding 1-year-old Bianka Bella, and shared a special message to his family in his acceptance speech.
“It’s about family. It’s about my wife, Vanessa,” the athlete said. “You guys don’t know this, but my last game that we had here against the Utah Jazz, I was really tired. I got home, and I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this thing. I got one more game left, but I don’t have any legs.’ And [Vanessa] said, ‘I want to show you something. I got a gift for you for your last game.’ ”
“And she proceeded to show me the row of retired jerseys from [Elgin] Baylor, from Magic [Johnson], from [Shaquille O’Neal], from Cap [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar], all with personal messages signed to me, including from Michael Jordan, including from the great Bill Russell, including from the great Larry Bird,” continued Bryant. “When I saw that, I knew then that I had to turn it up. So thank you, baby, for being an inspiration to me.”
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Kobe Bryant with family
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Bryant then turned his attention to their children, including Gianna Maria-Onore, 11, and Natalia Diamante, 14. “And lastly, our daughters, Natalia, Gianna and Bianka … you guys know that if you do the work, you work hard enough, your dreams come true. You know that. We all know that,” he said.
“But hopefully, what you get from tonight is the understanding that those times when you get up early and you work hard, those times when you stay up late and you work hard, those times when you don’t feel like working, you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway — that is actually the dream,” he added.
“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” explained Bryant. “And if you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see is you won’t accomplish your dreams. Your dreams won’t come true. Something greater will, and if you guys can understand that, then I’m doing my job as a father.”
“It’s not about my jerseys that are hanging up there for me. It’s about the jerseys that were hanging up there before,” he said. “Without them, I couldn’t be there today.”
“They inspired me to play the game at a high level,” Bryant added. “Magic, Cap, Shaq pushing me every day. Baylor. [Wilt] Chamberlain. [Gail] Goodrich. [Jerry] West. [James] Worthy. It goes on and on.”
Bryant ended his speech, “Mamba, out.”
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Since retiring in April 2016, Bryant told Extra his life is now “all about family and work” — and with three young girls in the house, the couple might try for a boy.
“I hear boys are just walking tornadoes. We’ll see. I think Vanessa wants a boy more than I do,” the retired NBA star said at the Tribeca Film Festival.
However, Bryant doesn’t mind being outnumbered, despite what his pals may say. “My friends say, ‘It takes a real man to make a boy,’ ” he said. “I’m like, ‘Dude, it takes a king to make a princess … get in line.’ “