Vanessa Bryant revealed that her late husband, Kobe Bryant, had a hand in the creation of one of three statues that will be placed in front of Crypto.com Arena, home to the Los Angeles Lakers, that she described as “the house that Kobe built.”
Vanessa Bryant, in a speech during a ceremony before the Lakers-Denver Nuggets game Thursday, explained that the NBA great picked the pose on the bronze statue before sending a message to critics.
“So if anyone has any issues with it, tough shit,” she said, adding, “it is what it is.”
She spoke at the ceremony just over four years after her husband –– alongside their daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others –– were killed in a helicopter crash in 2020.
She reflected on the “especially sad day” for her family because the two members being honored weren’t present for an “incredibly joyous moment.”
“Kobe has so many people that have supported him all over the world from the very beginning. And this moment isn’t just for Kobe, but it’s for all of you that have been rooting for him all of these years,” Vanessa Bryant said.
She spoke just prior to the unveiling of the statue, which depicts the basketball icon wearing his No. 8 jersey and pointing to the sky. The pose is from the former Lakers star’s 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, an effort that stands as the second-most points scored by a player in an NBA game.
The statue, surrounded by Kobe Bryant’s five NBA championship trophies, features the words “Kobe Bean Bryant” and “Black Mamba” at the base, along with a box score from the 81-point game.
It also includes a QR code for a Denzel Washington-narrated video on the game and a quote, “Leave the game better than you found it. And when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend.”
The first statue, sculpted by Julie Rotblatt Amrany, features tattoos of their daughters’ names on Kobe Bryant’s arm.
Vanessa Bryant said that the other statues would include one with Gianna and another featuring his No. 24 jersey.
FULL SPEECH: Vanessa Bryant unveils Kobe’s statue pic.twitter.com/7q6zb9ok3H
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 9, 2024