Kobe Bryant may be gone but, according to his wife Vanessa, he’s still looking out for his daughters. Bryant was posthumously inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame over the weekend, but one notable face was missing from the ceremony — his 18-year-old daughter Natalia.
Natalia’s absence didn’t go unnoticed. She was present for the Tip-Off Celebration and Awards Gala on May 14 at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., where she accepted her father’s Hall of Fame jacket, but flew home afterward. Vanessa explained her mysterious absence the following day on Instagram.
In a sweet photo that featured Vanessa kissing Natalia on the cheek, she shared an explanatory caption. “Natalia almost missed her senior prom last night. When I was a senior in high school, Kobe and I were engaged and he had a playoff game the night of my prom,” she wrote. “Kobe didn’t want me going to prom without him, and I didn’t want to go without him. When we heard Natalia’s prom night and Kobe’s Hall of Fame night were on the same night, I looked at Natalia and said, ‘Well, if it’s any consolation, daddy kept me from going to my prom, so it’s only right that he tried to keep you from going to yours.'”
“Of course we laughed because even in heaven, he’s still trying to make moves and keep the boys away,” she continued. “Natalia’s experienced so much loss, I couldn’t let her miss out on her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to her senior prom. Thank you for flying out to accept daddy’s Hall of Fame jacket and fly home the next morning.”
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony was originally scheduled for late 2020 but was postponed for eight months due to COVID-19 restrictions. At the ceremony, Vanessa and Natalia accepted Kobe’s jacket and Hall of Fame ring on his behalf, and Vanessa gave a moving speech. “His most cherished accomplishment was being the very best girl dad,” she said of Kobe. “I want to thank him for somehow finding ways to dedicate time to not only being an incredible athlete, a visionary, entrepreneur and storyteller, but for also being an amazing family man.”
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