Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, but his athletic influence goes well beyond just the hardwood. He touched fans and athletes of all sports, and on Sunday, the NFL intends to show how much he meant to the league.
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced during a press conference on Wednesday that the league will honor Bryant during Super Bowl 54.
“I don’t think just Los Angeles is mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant,” Goodell began, noting that the league will also honor Hall of Fame lineman Chris Doleman, who died from cancer this week. “I think both of those individuals will be seen on Sunday in some fashion in a respectful way,” Goodell said.
“I did have the opportunity to meet him. He obviously brought a lot to our world and I think all of us not only feel for the tragic events to his family but as well as everyone else who was a passenger on that helicopter,” Goodell continued.
“It’s hard to understand and it’s hard to process,” Goodell added. He also said he was proud of “the way our players, the way our league responded, including a moment of silence during the [Pro Bowl] game, put his picture up and the way the fans responded to that.
“We did that again on Monday night. So, we as a league have been very responsive and I think respectful of somebody who contributed so much to sports,” he concluded.
Also on Wednesday, Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, broke her silence on the tragedy and shared a touching post on Instagram.
“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri,” she wrote.
“We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately.
There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon,” Vanessa added.
“I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”