Kobe Bryant was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday and the late basketball player's legacy was honored by his family at the event...
So much so...
That his eldest daughter, Natalia, wore his Hall of Fame jacket as a touching tribute to her father.
Scroll on to see the sweet moment when the Bryant family accepted their father's induction...
Now, January 26th, 2020, was a dark day for the world.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, were killed when their helicopter crashed into a California hillside.
It had started as a routine trip to one of Gianna's basketball games.
Kobe, forty-one, and his daughter, who was herself a budding basketball player, were accompanied in the private helicopter by Orange Coast College baseball coach, John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, their teenage daughter, Alyssa, Sarah Chester, and her daughter, Payton; and Christina Mauser, an assistant coach.
Many believed that Gianna was set to follow in her father's footsteps.
From childhood, she would participate in the team warm-ups, and, going by her skill displayed on the court, she was set to have an illustrious basketball career ahead of her.
Their flight took off in clear skies in Orange County...
But it eventually encountered fog so thick that it nearly blinded drivers on the freeway. Visibility was so poor, in fact, that the Los Angeles Police Department had grounded its fleet of helicopters.
In his last message before the crash, the pilot told air traffic control he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer, and witnesses on the ground reported seeing the helicopter flying through a layer of clouds and fog seconds before it crashed.
It has since emerged that the helicopter fell at a rate of about twenty-three miles per hour and slammed into the hill in a "high-energy impact crash," according to the N.T.S.B.
Nobody on board survived.
Footage from the aftermath of the crash was quick to circulate online...
.@LACOFD helicopter over the scene . As air ops quickly told me it is a fire not sheriffs chopper hovering and now… https://t.co/I5VE1IaTao— Richard Winton (@Richard Winton)1580066118.0
And, even more quickly, the rumors regarding Kobe and Gianna started to emerge.
It was truly harrowing...
Not only because Kobe opted for helicopters as his most regular use of transport, but that the very aircraft that had crashed had actually transported him to his last ever Lakers game in 2016.
The tributes were quick to flood in from all over the globe...
But, of course, all focus was quickly directed to Kobe's surviving wife and daughters.
He left behind his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and their 3 remaining daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.
In the aftermath of the accident, Vanessa wrote on Instagram:
"I've been reluctant to put my feelings into words. My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can't process both at the same time. It's like I'm trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong."
And, nearly a month on from the tragedy, Vanessa gave her first public speech.
Friends, family, former teammates, and legions of fans packed Los Angeles' Staples Center as Vanessa said goodbye to her husband and daughter.
"Babe, you take care of our Gigi - I got Nani, BB, and Coco. We're still the best team."
Fellow Lakers star and close friend of Kobe's, Michael Jordan, also spoke at the memorial...
"When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died." Michael Jordan, a close friend of Kobe Bryant, wiped tears away as he… https://t.co/FOwTcAWc8o— ABC News (@ABC News)1582612260.0
And, through tears, said:
"When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died. I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could."
Well, over a year has now passed since the devastating event...
And the loss is certainly no easier.
The past twelve months have been undeniably difficult for Kobe's surviving family...
And, on Kobe's first birthday since his death, Vanessa wrote a heartfelt message on Instagram that only highlighted her pain further:
"To my baby. Happy birthday. I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain. I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU! I wish I could make you your fav food or a birthday cake with my Gigi. I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud ass deep laugh. I miss teasing you, making you laugh, and bursting your bubble. I miss you sitting on my lap like my big baby that you are. I think about your tenderness and patience all the time."
Her message continued:
"I picture your smile and wide big welcoming hugs daily. God, I miss you both so much. Our lives feel so empty without you and Gigi. I've been completely broken inside. As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughter's days shine a little brighter. I'm not the strong one, they are."
And, on the anniversary of the deaths of her husband and daughter, she wrote this:
"I will never understand why/how this tragedy could've happened to such beautiful, kind and amazing human beings. It still doesn't seem real. Kob, we did it right. Gigi, you still make mommy proud. I love you!"
And earlier this year...
It was announced that Kobe would be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The event went ahead on Saturday, May 15th...
And Kobe's long-time friend and teammate, Michael Jordan, presented the posthumous enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, an inevitable honor delayed nearly nine months by the Covid-19 pandemic.
During Saturday's ceremony, Vanessa also gave a speech on Kobe's behalf, explaining that her husband had been looking forward to the event prior to his death in January 2020.
"I wish my husband was here to accept this incredible award," she said in an emotional speech. "He and Gigi deserve to be here to witness this. Gigi would be so proud to watch her daddy get enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame."
She went on to talk about Kobe's career, highlighting his many accomplishments including 2 Olympic gold medals, his 5 NBA championships, and more...
Adding that his most cherished accomplishment was "being the very best girl dad."
"Thank you for putting your love for our family first. Thank you for bringing so much joy to our lives and joy to the people around the world. Thank you for inspiring us to be better than we were the day before. Thank you for teaching me, and all of us, to put someone else's joy before our own."
But ahead of the ceremony, something truly sentimental happened between Kobe's family.
Along with Vanessa, Kobe's daughter Natalia was presented with the athlete's 2020 Hall of Fame jacket and ring.
Natalia was photographed wearing Kobe's jacket...
And Vanessa shared images from the honorary exhibit that was set up to pay tribute to Kobe's career and life.
It was clearly such a beautiful moment that Vanessa and Natalia will cherish for a very long time.
For more on the late basketball legend, scroll on...