It’s been four years since Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others tragically died in a helicopter crash.
On Thursday, Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant and their kids, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri, gathered to honor the basketball legend at the unveiling of his life-sized statue.
The statue, the first of three to grace Crypto.com Arena, shows Kobe wearing a jersey No. 8, pointing his finger to the sky. Two additional statues, one featuring Gianna and the other depicting him in his No. 24 jersey, represent different chapters of his life and career.
Before the unveiling of the sculpture, Vanessa delivered a moving speech, acknowledging the somberness of the occasion.
“It goes without saying that today is an especially sad day for us since Kobe and Gigi aren’t here for what is supposed to be an incredibly joyous moment and Kobe’s legacy,” she began.
She continued, “Kobe has so many people that have supported him all over the world from the very beginning. And this moment isn’t just for Kobe, but it’s for all of you that have been rooting for him all of these years.”.
Vanessa highlighted Kobe’s strong bond with Los Angeles and his pride in representing the city.
“And to the fans here in LA, this is a special city Kobe was so proud to represent. You welcomed him with open arms and have been so important to him, our family and his legacy.”
She also highlighted Kobe’s influence on inspiring a new generation of basketball players to strive for greatness
“As I see today’s current generation of star players following Kobe’s footsteps with huge scoring games. I know he would take pride in knowing that he is still pouring inspiration into the game that was so special to him,” continued Vanessa.
In her closing remarks, Vanessa urged everyone to “leave the game better than you found it “.