The wife of the late Los Angeles Lakers star was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation. She began by dedicating the day to not just Kobe but also his fans that supported him throughout his career, giving a special shoutout to the City of Angels.
"To the fans here in LA, this is a special city Kobe was so proud to represent," Bryant said. "You welcomed him with open arms and have been so important to him, our family and his legacy."
Vanessa worked with the sculptors to design the piece, and highlighted a specific detail she requested.
“All of our daughter’s names are tattooed on Kobe’s arm," Bryant said. "Although some of our girls weren’t born at the time of that particular moment, that specific detail is for Kobe.”
“And for the record, Kobe picked the pose you’re about to see. So if anyone has any issues with it, tough s---. It is what it is,” she added.
“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,” Bryant continued.
Vanessa Bryant concluded her speech by quoting Kobe saying, "leave the game better than you found it, and when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend. And that he did."
The curtain dropped to reveal the 19-foot bronze statue as confetti fell from the ceiling, and the crowd applauded.
The statue captures Bryant with his right index finger raised in the air as he walked off the court following his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006.
It is the first of three statues, known collectively as "The House that Kobe Built," that will be created to honor the Lakers legend outside the Crypto.com Arena. One statue will depict Bryant in his No. 24 jersey, while the other will feature his daughter, Gianna.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter died in a helicopter crash January 2020 in Calabasas, California, while headed to a basketball tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks.
Bryant retired in 2016 after 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a five-time NBA champion, the fourth-leading scorer in history and a league MVP. Bryant was posthumously elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.