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Vanessa Bryant pays heartfelt tribute to late daughter Gianna Bryant on what would be her 18th birthday

The indelible mark Gianna left on the hearts of those who knew her and those who admired her from afar

Shirley Gomez
Senior Writer
MAY 1, 2024 3:12 PM EDT

On January 26, 2020, the world was shaken by the tragic loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his beloved daughter Gianna Bryant in a devastating helicopter crash that killed seven others. Yet, their memories resonate deeply, and they are kept alive through the love and tributes of Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow and Gianna’s mother.

On what would have been Gianna’s 18th birthday, Vanessa took to Instagram to share a poignant video montage commemorating her daughter’s life. The montage, a beautiful compilation of cherished moments, shows the indelible mark Gianna left on the hearts of those who knew her and those who admired her from afar.

Landlord wants mural of Kobe Bryant and her daughter Gianna taken down© GettyImages

Accompanying the video was a heartfelt caption penned by Vanessa herself. It expressed the depth of her love for her daughter and the enduring ache of her absence. “Happy birthday to my gorgeous girl, Gigi! I love you. I miss you,” Vanessa wrote.

In her message, Vanessa also reflected on the milestones Gianna would have reached in 2024 if she had been granted the chance to continue her journey. “You would’ve been graduating high school and choosing which college to go to. (I would’ve been trying my hardest to convince you to stay close to home),” Vanessa shared.

Gianna’s passion for sports, nurtured by her father, Kobe, remains a poignant legacy. Vanessa acknowledged this, expressing her pride in the strides Gianna and Kobe made to effect change in athletics. “I’m proud of the change in sports you and daddy worked so hard on,” Vanessa affirmed.

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Throughout her tribute, Vanessa’s love for her daughter shines brightly, illuminating the darkness of grief with the warmth of cherished memories and devotion. “You continue to motivate me and inspire young women and girls daily,” Vanessa declared, honoring Gianna’s spirit. “I love you always, mommy,” Vanessa wrote, a simple yet profound declaration.

Kobe Bryant’s death and aftermath

In 2020 a helicopter crash killed Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, 13-year-old Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, 46, 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, 46, John Altobelli, 56, Christina Mauser, 38, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.

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After an 11-day trial, in which Vanessa detailed the moment she learned first responders took graphic images of Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant’s remains and shared them with unauthorized people for entertainment purposes and not as part of the accident’s investigations, a Los Angeles federal jury ordered Los Angeles County to pay $16 million to Bryant and $15 million to Chris Chester, who lost his wife, Sarah Chester and their daughter Payton Chester.

After winning the lawsuit, Bryant donated her part to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to offers sports education to underserved and aspiring athletes.