“When we heard Natalia’s prom night and Kobe’s Hall of Fame night were on the same night, I looked at Natalia and said, ‘Well if it’s any consolation, daddy kept me from going to my prom, so it’s only right that he tried to keep you from going to yours,’” Vanessa, 39, captioned a Sunday, May 16, Instagram selfie. “When I was a senior in high school, Kobe and I were engaged and he had a playoff game the night of my prom. Kobe didn’t want me going to prom without him and I didn’t want to go without him.”
The California native joked that Kobe was “Still trying to make moves and keep the boys away … even in heaven.” She wrote, “Natalia’s experienced so much loss, I couldn’t let her miss out on her once in a lifetime opportunity to go to her senior prom.”
While the teenager did attend the school dance, posing for pictures ahead of time with Ciara and Russell Wilson, she flew to Connecticut to accept Kobe’s Hall of Fame jacket ahead of the ceremony. Natalia flew back to California the next morning.
The late Los Angeles Lakers player was inducted on Saturday by Michael Jordan. Vanessa spoke at the ceremony about how she kept Kobe grounded.
“I used to always avoid praising my husband in public because I felt like he got enough praise from his fans,” the former model said. “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–t?!’”
She and the Pennsylvania native wed in April 2001. Vanessa gave birth to Natalia two years later and went on to welcome daughters Gianna 2006, Bianka in 2016 and Capri in 2019. Gianna and Kobe died in January 2020 in a helicopter crash, alongside seven other victims.
Before Kobe’s death, the athlete was informed of his induction and was “so happy” about the honor.
“He didn’t really talk about upcoming awards, but he did mention this one a week before he and Gigi passed,” Vanessa explained on Saturday. “My husband and I were sitting at our kitchen island and he and I had a conversation about my mother- and father-in-law attending tonight’s enshrinement.”
Keep scrolling to see Vanessa and Natalia bonding ahead of the ceremony.