Kobe Bryant sent a sweet message to his wife and daughters when he accepted his Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2018.
The basketball legend, 41, died along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a tragic helicopter crash on Sunday that also killed seven other people. His death came just under two year after he became an Oscar winner for Dear Basketball, a short drawn from his love letter to the sport when he announced his retirement in 2015.
After taking the stage with animator Glen Keane, Bryant thanked his wife and daughters with a sweet message in Italian.
“To my wife Vanessa and our daughters Natalia, Gianna and Bianka, ti amo con tutto il cuore [I love you with all my heart]. You are my inspiration,” he said.
Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and three of their four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
The athlete’s daughter Gianna, nicknamed Gigi, was also onboard the private helicopter when it went down on Sunday, reps for the former basketball player told TMZ Sports.
Sources told ESPN that the helicopter was headed to a travel basketball game for Gianna.
Bryant and his late daughter attended several Lakers games before the start of the new year, marking the first time he had been to a game since his jersey was retired in 2017.
“We just had so much fun because it was the first time I was seeing the game through her eyes,” the five-time NBA champion said of sharing the experience with his daughter.
“It wasn’t me sitting there, you know, as an athlete or a player or something like that, and you know it’s like about me, and I don’t like that,” he added. “It was her, she was having such a good time.”
Earlier this month, Bryant — who officially retired in 2016 — revealed that he had recently started watching basketball all the time because of his daughter.
“Before Gigi got into basketball I hardly watched it, but now that’s she’s into basketball, we watch every night,” Bryant told former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the Showtime Basketball podcast All the Smoke.