If I can be honest, I’m not an avid NBA fan. 

But along with the rest of the world, I was rocked by the loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna—lovingly known as Gigi—and seven other victims in a tragic helicopter crash in January of 2020. 

In the months since the accident I’ve followed Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, on Instagram and have been in absolute awe of her strength, grace, and dedication to honoring the legacies of both Kobe and Gigi.

As a fellow wife and mama, my heart has broken for her over and over.

The magnitude of her loss is something I honestly can’t even begin to imagine—and pray to God I never can.

She’s a grieving widow and heartbroken mother who has somehow found the strength to wake up every day to lead her three earth-side daughters in a way I’m certain would make Kobe so proud. 

Kobe was a basketball icon, to be sure—but in the glimpses Vanessa has shared of their life together, it’s evident his loss was so much more than that. He was a loving father. A doting husband. A go-getter, and a charismatic inspiration to everyone around him.

In last night’s Hall of Fame enshrinement speech, Vanessa paid tribute to all these sides of her husband in a speech that was nothing short of an incredible tribute to the love of her life.

My eyes stung as I watched all-time great Michael Jordan escort Vanessa to the stage, and the emotions just kept on coming through the entire 12-minute speech as she touted her husband’s accomplishments both on and off the court—the most cherished of which she described as, “being the very best girl dad.”

By the finale of her speech, the tears were rolling down my own cheeks.

“Dear Kobe,” she finished, “Thank you for being the best husband and father you could possibly be. . . Thank you for our family. Thank you for our daughters, Natalia, Gianna, Bianca and Capri. Thank you for working so tirelessly to provide for us and for giving us the most amazing life together.”

If love was a sound, it would be Vanessa’s voice in that moment.

“You did it. You’re in the Hall of Fame now,” Bryant said. “I’m so proud of you. I love you forever and always, Kobe Bean Bryant.”

I truly can’t fathom the strength it must have taken Vanessa to stand up on that stage. I have a feeling that somewhere out there, Kobe and Gigi were watching the whole thing—and I’m sure their hearts were swelling with pride with every single word.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward