The basketball star died in a helicopter crash in January 2020, along with their daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others.
Vanessa, 39, decided to take a leaf out of her late husband’s book, who ‘winged every speech’ and didn’t prepare anything for the ceremony, but she was ready to heap glowing praise on him after admitting it was something she held back on while he was alive.
She said: ‘I used to always avoid praising my husband in public because I felt like he got enough praise from his fans.
‘Along the road someone had to bring him back to reality.
‘Right now I am sure he is laughing in heaven because I’m about to praise him in public for his accomplishments on one of the most public stages.
‘I can see him now, arms folded, with a huge grin saying, “Isn’t this some s***?”’
Vanessa was accompanied on stage by basketball great Michael Jordan, who acted as Kobe’s presenter for the enshrinement.
Vanessa described Kobe as ‘intelligent, eloquent and gifted at many things’ but also noted that she knew he would want to ‘thank everyone that helped him get here’, even if it was because they ‘doubted him’ or ‘worked against him’ because these were things that motivated him.
‘After all,’ she continued, ‘he proved you wrong.’
She also spoke of the importance Kobe placed on family, and she described his ‘most cherished accomplishment’ as being ‘the very best girl dad’.
Kobe was also father to Natalia, 18, Bianka, four, and 22-month-old Capri with Vanessa.
She thanked him for their children, saying: ‘Thank you for our family. Thank you for our daughters. Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, and Capri.
‘Thank you for working so tirelessly to provide for us and for giving us the most amazing life together.
‘Thank you enough to last five times, and every lifetime I choose you.’
She revealed that Kobe had told her to ‘bet on yourself’, and shared her delight over the fact that he had done so.
‘I’m glad you bet on yourself, you overachiever. You did it.
‘You’re in the hall of fame now. You’re a true champ.
‘You’re not just an MVP. You’re an all-time great.’