Joined by Michael Jordan, who presented the award, Vanessa began her speech by noting that Kobe was laughing at her from heaven for praising him on one of the most public stages. She then thanked everyone who helped her husband become the man and athlete he was, including but not limited to his family, the Los Angeles Lakers and all of the people who doubted him. “He would thank all of them for motivating him to be here,” Vanessa said, referring to Kobe’s doubters, “After all, he proved you wrong.” MJ stood beside her with a smile on his face, knowing just how true her statement was.
“Kobe was on a different level. He never took shortcuts when it came to basketball,” she said. “He gave this game his all. Kobe played through injury after injury. To name a few, he had IVs administered during halftimes to play through food poisoning and the flu. He played with a broken nose, he had a broken finger and had it snapped back in place just enough to finish the game. He also taught himself how to use his left hand to play the rest of the season while his finger healed. He even swished two free throws with a torn achilles and walked off the court on his own.”
She added, “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. He could recall the car ride, 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 sections that saved up to watch him play — the kids with the same excitement he once had.”
Watch Vanessa Bryant’s full speech above.
In related news, Michael Jordan is set to make an appearance in Space Jam: A New Legacy.