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Vanessa Bryant unveils Kobe statue at Lakers arena

Vanessa Bryant unveiled a statue honouring her late husband Kobe Bryant credit:Bang Showbiz
Vanessa Bryant unveiled a statue honouring her late husband Kobe Bryant credit:Bang Showbiz

A statue of late basketball legend Kobe Bryant has been unveiled by his widow Vanessa outside the Los Angeles Lakers' home ground.

The sports star - who perished in a helicopter crash in 2020 along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna - has been immortalised in bronze and the monument has been placed in Star Plaza outside of the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles - and Vanessa remembered her husband and her daughter in an emotional speech as she unveiled the tribute.

She said: "It goes without saying that today is an especially sad day for us since Kobe and Gigi [Gianna] aren't here for what is supposed to be an incredibly joyous moment and Kobe’s legacy.

"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.

"And to the fans here in LA, this is a special city Kobe was so proud to represent. You welcomed him with open arms and have been so important to him, our family and his legacy."

Vanessa revealed the statue's pose had previously been signed off by Kobe himself, and it's going to be a one of three monuments to him that will be erected around the arena with one depicting him with daughter Gianna.

She jokingly added of the first statue: "For the record, Kobe picked the pose you're about to see. So if anyone has any issues with it, tough ... It is what it is."

Vanessa went on to say: "As I see today's current generation of star players following Kobe's footsteps with huge scoring games. I know he would take pride in knowing that he is still pouring inspiration into the game that was so special to him."

She concluded her speech by quoting her husband's words, saying: "Leave the game better than you found it and when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend. And that he did."