NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was posthumously elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame among eight other players on April 4. After a 20-year career spent entirely with the Los Angeles Lakers, retiring in 2016, this is the first year he was eligible for the recognition. “It’s an incredible accomplishment and honor, and we’re extremely proud of him,” said his widow, Vanessa Bryant, in an interview with ESPN on Saturday. “Every accomplishment that he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here.”
During the span of his two-decade career, Kobe won five championships, was named an All-Star 18 times, and retired as the third-highest all-time scorer in the league’s history. He also played for Team USA in the Olympics in 2008 and 2012, winning gold medals at both. In January, he and his second eldest daughter, Gianna, along with seven others, were killed in a helicopter crash on the way to a youth basketball tournament in Calabasas, CA.
Kobe left behind an immeasurable legacy not only as a basketball player, but as a husband, father, and mentor to many. He is survived by his wife and three other daughters. “Obviously we wish that he was here with us to celebrate,” said Vanessa. “We’re incredibly proud of him.”
“No amount of words can fully describe what Kobe Bryant meant to the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe was not only a proven winner and a champion, he gave everything he had to the game of basketball,” said Jeanie Buss, owner of the Lakers, in a statement. “His fierce competitiveness, work ethic, and drive were unmatched. Those qualities helped Kobe lead us to five titles —and have now brought him to the Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined with the greatest to have ever played the game. No one deserves it more.”
Kobe and the other eight players announced in the 2020 Hall of Fame class will be inducted on August 29.