Over the weekend, Kawhi Leonard won the first ever MVP award named after Kobe Bryant, at the 2020 NBA All-Star game, and the beloved NBA star dedicated it to the late Lakers icon. In a clip shared to Twitter, Leonard is seen accepting the award and when asked what it means to him to have earned it, he replies, "It means a lot to me. Words can't even explain." Leonard gathered his thoughts and the added, "I wanna thank Kobe for everything he's done for me. All the long talks and workouts... thank you. This one's for him."
Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash in January, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, the aircraft's pilot, and six other passengers.
In the wake of Bryant's untimely death, the NBA created the All-Star Game MVP award to be given out in his memory, to honor the basketball legend for all his contributions to the game.
Kawhi Leonard scores 30 PTS and hits 8 triples to lead #TeamLeBron to victory in the 2020 #NBAAllStar Game and win the Kia NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award! #KiaAllStarMVP pic.twitter.com/HNQtL17fHH— NBA (@NBA) February 17, 2020
Following the terrible accident, Bryant's wife Vannessa spoke out on Instagram, writing, "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 went on to say, "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.
"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," Vanessa also wrote.