“Obviously we wish that he was here with us to celebrate but it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career," Vanessa Bryant said

By Maria Pasquini
April 04, 2020 01:45 PM
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Vanessa Bryant is speaking out about how much it means to her that her late husband Kobe Bryant will be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Shortly after the announcement was made on Saturday, Vanessa and her daughter Natalia, 17, appeared on ESPN and Vanessa reflected on the bittersweet milestone.

“It’s an incredible accomplishment and honor and we’re extremely proud of him,” the mother of four said. “Obviously we wish that he was here with us to celebrate but it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career.”

“Every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here. We’re incredibly proud of him,” she added, noting that she felt “some solace” in recent months “knowing that he was probably going to be a part of the 2020 Hall of Fame class.”

Vanessa and Natalia Bryant
ESPN

Shortly after Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, Hall of Fame Chairman Jerry Colangelo said that the beloved Los Angeles Lakers star would be inducted.

“When people talk about the greats of all time, it’s pretty difficult to say who was No. 1, and who’s 2, and who’s 3, but there are four to five names that always get mentioned, we know that. Kobe’s right there with everybody,” Colangelo said on NBA TV. “There’s no doubt in my mind. He’s going to be honored. He’s going into the Hall of Fame.”

Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna
Ethan Miller/Getty

Bryant joins Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan in the class of 2020, as well as WNBA star Tamika Catchings.

“The Class of 2020 is undoubtedly one of the most historic of all time and the talent and social influence of these nine honorees is beyond measure,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“In 2020, the basketball community has suffered the unimaginable loss of iconic figures Commissioner David Stern and Kobe Bryant, as well as the game itself due to COVID-19. We have also banded together like never before in appreciation of the game and those who have made it the uniting force it is today,” he added. “Today we thank the Class of 2020 for all they have done for the game of basketball.”

The enshrinement ceremony is scheduled to take place on Aug. 28.