Kobe Bean Bryant has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020. The induction ceremony took place Saturday (May 15) inside the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino in Uncasville, Conn.
Bryant’s mentor, “big brother” and fierce competitor Michael Jordan did the honors of welcoming him into the Hall of Fame. Jordan tearfully stood behind Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, as she gave a heartfelt speech acknowledging the 5x NBA champion’s many accomplishments on-and-off the court.
“Last February, I called Michael and asked him if he would introduce Kobe tonight and he graciously accepted,” Vanessa said. “Thank you for being here Michael. Kobe admired you. This means so much to us.”
“He was intelligent, eloquent and gifted at many things … I know he would thank everyone who helped get him here, including those who doubted him.” Vanessa said.
“One of the reasons he played through injury was because he remembered sitting in the nosebleeds to watch his favorite player play,” she continued. “He could recall the car ride and being lucky enough to have a seat. He didn’t want to disappoint his fans, especially those sitting in the 300th row who saved up to see him play... If he could help it, he would play every minute of every game. He loved you all so much.”
Mrs. Bryant held her composure as she spoke of her late husband’s character, his drive and who he was at home. She thanked him for teaching her to be selfless and for his “most cherished accomplishment,” which was being “the very best girl-dad.”
“I’m glad you bet on yourself, you overachiever,” she concluded. “You did it. You’re in the Hall of Fame now. You’re not just an MVP you're an all-time great. I love you forever and always, Kobe Bean Bryant.”
On Friday (May 14), the NBA also unveiled a special exhibit titled “Kobe: Basketball Life.” The enshrinement dedicated to Bryant was mostly designed by Vanessa and the trading card company Panini. It features memorabilia from Bryant’s heyday, including his game-worn shoes, Lakers jerseys, championship rings and more priceless items. Bryant’s Oscar-winning short film, “Dear Basketball,” will be shown in the exhibit as well.
Check out part of the ceremony below: