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The 2018 Baby2Baby Gala

Source: Apega/WENN.com / WENN

Vanessa Bryant accepted her late husband Kobe Bryant’s admission into the Basketball Hall of Fame on May 15, 2021 with a heartfelt speech on his behalf.

She kicked her speech off discussing the irony of her being the one accepting this honor and praising him when she wasn’t keen on doing so when he was alive.

“I used to always avoid praising my husband in public because I felt like he got enough praise from his fans around the world and someone had to bring him back to reality,” she said. “Right now, I’m sure he’s laughing in heaven because I’m about to praise him in public for his accomplishments on one of the most public stages. I can see him now, arms folded, with a huge grin saying, ‘Isn’t this some s***? He’s still winning.”

Bryant also explained why the former Los Angeles Lakers star used to do something athletes were cautioned not to do: play through injuries. The mother-of-four said that it was very important to him to not disappoint his fans.

“People don’t know this, but one of the reasons my husband played through injuries and pain was because he said he remembered being a little kid, sitting in the nosebleeds with his dad to watch his favorite player play,” she continued. “He could recall the car ride, the convos and the excitement of being lucky enough to have a seat in the arena. Kobe didn’t want to disappoint his fans, especially the ones in the 300 section that saved up to watch him play, the kids with the same excitement he once had. I remember asking him why he just couldn’t sit a game out because he was hurting. He said, ‘What about the fans who 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 loved you all so much.”

She said that Kobe Bryant was here to accept this honor, he would not only than his fans and mentors but also his haters.

“I don’t have a speech prepared by my husband because he winged every single speech,” she said. “He was intelligent, eloquent and gifted at many things, including public speaking. However, I do know that he would thank everyone that helped him get here, including the people that doubted him and the people that worked against him and told him that he couldn’t attain his goals. He would thank all of them for motivating him to be here. After all, he proved you wrong.”

Watch her full speech below.

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