Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and the fourth all-time leading scorer in league history, has been posthumously elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
The 18-time NBA All-Star played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning the league MVP once and the finals MVP twice. He also captured two Olympic gold medals.
"It's (an) incredible accomplishment and honor," Bryant's widow, Vanessa, told ESPN. "We're extremely proud of him. Obviously, we wish he was here with us to celebrate. "But it's definitely the peak of his NBA career and every accomplishment he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to being here."
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement, "No amount of words can fully describe what Kobe Bryant meant to the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe was not only a proven winner and a champion, he gave everything he had to the game of basketball. His fierce competitiveness, work ethic and drive were unmatched.
"Those qualities helped Kobe lead us to five titles -- and have now brought him to the Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined with the greatest to have ever played the game. No one deserves it more."
Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Tamika Catchings are among other notable ball players going into the Hall of Fame.