Vanessa Bryant Honors Kobe in Emotional Speech at Baby2Baby Gala

Vanessa last attended the gala with Kobe in 2019.

It was a bittersweet weekend for Vanessa Bryant. The wife of the late Kobe Bryant accepted the Giving Tree Award at the Baby2Baby 10-Year Gala presented by Paul Mitchell, but the moment reminded her of her past times attending the annual event with the late NBA star. 

“I have to start by saying how much I miss my perfect date today. My husband Kobe loved attending,” Vanessa said in her speech (per Variety), getting visibly choked up and pausing before continuing. “Sorry. He loved attending Baby2Baby galas. With his big smile, he would look at me and say, ‘Babe, this is fricking awesome. Tonight, I’m your plus one… It’s the one event that I’m not obligated to do anything. I get to be your date, help families and enjoy great food.’”

Kobe and their daughter, Gianna, tragically died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Vanessa brought her oldest daughter, Natalia, as her date to this year's event. Vanessa reflected on stories of women she helped while working with the Baby2Baby organization, including a mother whose children had to share one diaper between them. 

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“That story still resonates with me today,” Vanessa said. “And after every Lakers game and all the glitz and glamour of a basketball game, my husband and I would notice the amount of homeless people on the drive home as we approached the freeway in downtown L.A. That was eye-opening to us and we wanted to do something about it, so we started our own foundation to help.”

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant in 2019 - Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

She concluded her speech by thanking her family, saying, “I want to thank my husband Kobe and my daughters Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri. Without your love and support, I wouldn’t have this strength to be here this evening. I love you.”