The 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class was officially enshrined tonight in Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, headlined by Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and the late Kobe Bryant.
15 months after his tragic death in a helicopter crash, Bryant entered the Hall of Fame alongside some of games greats, with his wife Vanessa accepting the honour on his behalf, concluding the night's proceedings with a touching speech in memory of her late husband.
"He didn't really talk about upcoming awards but he did mention this one a week before he and Gigi passed," Bryant said.
Presented by Michael Jordan, the wife of the Los Angeles Lakers legend spoke of her husband's appreciation for his fans and his relentless commitment to the game.
"I remember asking him why he couldn't just sit a game out because he was hurting. He said, "What about the fans that saved up to watch me play just once?" He never forgot about his fans. If he could help it, he would play every minute of every game. He loves you all so much."
"Usually people thank everyone that has helped them get here, but since I don't have Kobe's specific list, I want to thank my husband. He did the work. He broke those records, and he inspired people to be great. I want to thank him for somehow finding ways to dedicate time to not only being an incredible athlete, a visionary entrepreneur and storyteller, but for also being an amazing family man."
Bryant's legacy speaks for itself, with his accomplishments on the court, winning five NBA championships, 18 All-Star selections, two Finals MVPs and two Olympic gold medals.
"Congratulations, baby, all of your hard work and sacrifice has paid off. He once told me, if you're going to bet on someone, bet on yourself," she said.
"I'm glad you bet on yourself, you overachiever. You did it. You're in the Hall of Fame now. You're a true champ. You're not just an MVP, you're an all-time great. I'm so proud of you.
"I love you forever and always, Kobe Bean Bryant," she concluded.
Prior to the ceremony, Bryant shared on her Instagram the new exhibit at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, celebrating the life and legacy of Kobe, including his jerseys and iconic moments from his storied 20-year career.
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