Kobe Bryant’s hand and footprints were placed in the prestigious courtyard of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre this Wednesday.
Although Kobe first cast the prints in 2011, they were previously kept in the interior of the building rather than outdoors on public view.
The NBA legend was just 41 when he died in January 2020 in a shocking helicopter crash that also killed his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.
His widow Vanessa and three surviving daughters Natalia, 20, Bianka, six, and Capri, three, gathered this Wednesday at the TCL Chinese Theatre for the emotional ceremony that saw his prints unveiled in front of the venue.
Natalia delivered a touching speech, hailing Kobe as ‘the MVP of girl dads’ and saying: ‘We will love you forever and always,’ as seen in footage captured by Extra.
Tribute: Kobe Bryant’s hand and footprints were placed Wednesday in the prestigious courtyard of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre, where his daughter Natalia spoke
Remember when: Kobe Bryant’s hand and footprints were placed in the prestigious courtyard of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre this Wednesday
As seen this week: On Wednesday the prints were moved to the more distinguished location of the courtyard out front – making Kobe the first athlete to be honored there
Family affair: His widow Vanessa and three surviving daughters Natalia, 20, Bianka, six, and Capri, three, gathered this Wednesday at the TCL Chinese Theatre
Warm words: Natalia delivered a touching speech, hailing Kobe as ‘the MVP of girl dads’ and saying: ‘We will love you forever and always’
‘I’m honored to be here today to recognize the man that we all knew and love – my dad, Kobe Bryant. As his daughter, I got to see firsthand all the behind-the-scenes that he put work in. Watching him get up early in the morning before anyone else, to staying up late at night past anyone else, to continue working,’ she said.
‘This is just a very small glimpse into his incomparable work ethic. When most people knew him as a basketball player or storyteller, I got to know and love him as my dad, and let me tell you, he is the MVP of girl dads to say the least,’ Natalia added warmly.
‘Being a dad of four girls is definitely not easy, but despite the NBA and Laker schedules, he always made sure to support me and my sisters, Gianna, Bianka and Capri, at our recitals, games, tournaments and any monumental moment you can think of,’ the proud daughter recalled.
‘Being his daughter is one of the greatest joys of my life and I hope to continue to embody and cherish the many lessons he has taught me,’ Natalia shared.
‘Within our family, each of us have our unique ways of expressing love, which can be referred to as our love language. One may wonder why I’ve developed such a fondness for movies like Star Wars, Harry Potter, the complete Marvel universe, and Goonies amongst many others.’
Her voice cracked with emotion as she revealed that ‘I watched all these movies with my dad, and each of those memories I will never forget.’
Natalia, who is currently a student at the University Of Southern California, cited Kobe as ‘the reason I am pursuing film in college and he is the reason film has inspired me to create memories like ours, for other people to even bring more fathers and daughters together like us.’
She stated: ‘This all brings me to this moment, now, which makes honoring my dad here 10 times more special and personal to me in so many ways. It’s truly astounding to be standing here in front of the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, forever displaying my dad’s hand and footprints.’
Proud mother: Vanessa sat attentively in the front row beside her two youngest children as she watched her firstborn give her speech
Side by side: Vanessa and Natalia were both dressed in black, echoing the mournful air of the ceremony in light of Kobe’s tragic death in 2020
In memory: Vanessa’s jewelry included a swirling ring shaped like a serpent, which was presumably a reference to Kobe’s nickname Black Mamba
Her sisters took her advice: Natalia said: ‘As you visit here for years to come, I encourage you to place your hands in his and take a moment to stand in his shoes’
Top figures: Jeannie Buss, the current owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, was also on hand for the ceremony, as was Kobe’s old mentor and coach Byron Scott
Natalia added: ‘As you visit here for years to come, I encourage you to place your hands in his and take a moment to stand in his shoes. This will be a treasure for the City Of Los Angeles and my dad’s fans from all over the world to hold and to cherish.’
She noted: ‘He was the first-ever NBA player to win an Oscar for a short film, and I’m extremely proud of him, not only because it’s such an amazing achievement, but because I was able to witness all the work leading up to that moment.’
Said Natalia: ‘I remember sitting beside him during late nights, whether I was working on a school project, getting a midnight snack or unable to sleep. He would always be awake, writing, storyboarding, editing, and that story evolved into the story that we all love and cherish, Dear Basketball.’
As such, she argued: ‘It is only fitting that my dad, Kobe Bryant, is the very first athlete to get their hand and footprints displayed here, in the City Of Los Angeles.’
His honor ‘symbolizes the impact that he has had on a city that he loved and cared for so deeply. This also embraces the Mamba Mentality and competitiveness at being the first-ever athlete to ever accomplish this,’ she said with a grin.
‘Now as I’ve gotten older, I continue to see the impact that he had on those around him and the inspiration he has brought to so many, from the professional athletes across the world, who use the Mamba Mentality to pursue their goals, to fans from Laker Nation and anyone who loved watching him play,’ Natalia reflected.
‘Dad, you are an icon, a legend, a storyteller and most importantly the best girl dad any young woman could ever dream of. I am honored to be here to represent you and our family and we are extremely proud of you. We will love you forever and always – love Natalia, Gianna, Bianca, Capri and Mommy,’ she concluded.
Jeanie Buss, the current owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, was also on hand for the ceremony, as was Kobe’s old mentor and coach Byron Scott.
Family moment: Vanessa glowed with maternal pride as she stood surrounded by her children
Baby of the family: Capri, who was not even one year old when she lost her father and her sister Gigi, could be seen leaning onto her mother’s lap during the ceremony
At the mic: Jeanie, who became president of the Lakers in 2013 upon the death of her father Jerry Buss, also took the lectern to deliver remarks
Somber: Byron was seated in the audience beside his visibly moved wife Cece, a nurse whom he married over the summer of 2020
All together: Natalia concluded her speech by announcing: ‘We will love you forever and always – love Natalia, Gianna, Bianca, Capri and Mommy’
Getting into it: Bianka and Capri threw themselves into the spirit of the occasion by placing their own little ands into their late father’s prints
So sweet: The adults smiled cheerfully at the children as they tried putting their feet into their legendary father’s shoeprints
Honor: Natalia noted in her speech that her father ‘was the first-ever NBA player to win an Oscar for a short film’ – the 2017 picture Dear Basketball
Memories: Natalia described her father as ‘an icon, a legend, a storyteller and most importantly the best girl dad any young woman could ever dream of’