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Vanessa Bryant Responds After Klay Thompson Honors Kobe And Gigi During ESPYs Acceptance Speech

Vanessa Bryant speaks at Kobe Bryant and Gigi Bryant's memorial.
(Image credit: CBS Sports)

It's hard to believe that almost two years have passed since Lakers great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna (a.k.a. Gigi) were among the nine killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The tragic loss of young lives — including one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history — still haunts the Black Mamba’s fans and those playing professional basketball. Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson said as much on Wednesday, July 20, when he accepted the ESPY Award for Best Comeback Athlete, crediting the entire Bryant family for their part in his journey, and Kobe’s wife Vanessa responded to his kind words.

Klay Thompson returned to Golden State this January, after spending more than two years battling injuries: first a torn ACL and then a torn Achilles tendon. Upon his return, he helped his team win an NBA Championship — something he said wouldn’t have been possible without Kobe Bryant’s inspirational words. The Warrior seemed to get a little emotional as he accepted his ESPY, concluding his speech by saying:

Lastly, I would like to thank the Bryant family, because, I don’t know if Vanessa’s out there watching, but to Vanessa and her three beautiful girls, we think of Kobe and Gigi every day. I read Mamba Mentality every day during rehab, and those are the best memories of my life watching him play, and he inspired me to be the athlete I am today. … Thank you, Kobe. Thank you, Gigi.

It turns out that Vanessa Bryant was watching, because she shared a video of Klay Thompson’s acceptance speech to her Instagram, thanking him for the sweet sentiment and for not only keeping her husband’s memory alive, but also her daughter’s. She wrote:

@klaythompson, you’re a class act. Thank you for your support and love for Kobe, my Gigi and our family. Thank you for always including my Gigi when you think of Kob. Congratulations. #MambaMentality #Espys

Continuing to share stories about Kobe Bryant and Gigi is one way to ensure their legacies live on after the tragic crash on January 26, 2020, and Vanessa Bryant has been carrying that torch — with the help of many others — by posting about special memories they shared, and honoring her late husband on his birthday

Vanessa Bryant deserves so much credit for the way she’s been able to stay strong for her three daughters, especially dealing with her grief in front of the entire world and continuing to fight legal battles related to the crash. There’s no doubt how much it means when today’s athletes show that her husband’s contributions are not forgotten, and Gigi’s spirit lives on as well. 

If you want to look back on the life and legacy of the former Laker, his five NBA Championships and the forces that drove the Black Mamba to be one of the best basketball players in history, check out these documentaries and specials about Kobe Bryant, including how to stream them.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.