On Sunday, Vanessa Bryant, wife of Kobe Bryant, posted a heart-wrenching emotional tribute to the late NBA star, who died on January 26 alongside their 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, that also claimed seven other lives. Kobe would have turned 42 today.
In the post, Bryant remembers her husband and describes the grief she and their surviving children, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri, have endured the last seven months. “As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters days shine a little brighter. I’m not the strong one, they are,” she writes. “They’re strong and resilient. I’m sure you’re proud of them. They put a smile on my face every day. I wish I could wake up from this nightmare.”
“To my baby~ Happy birthday. I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain. I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU! I wish I could make you your fav food or a birthday cake with my Gigi,” Bryant says in her Instagram post, paired with a photo of the couple. “I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud ass deep laugh. I miss teasing you, making you laugh, and bursting your bubble. I miss you sitting on my lap like my big baby that you are. I think about your tenderness and patience all the time. I think about everything you would do in situations to help me deal with everything thrown my way.”
“Thank you for growing up with me and teaching me how to be strong,” she says. “How to try to see the best in people but cutout the bs. Your thoughtful gestures and the amazing way you made us all feel is extremely missed. I picture your smile and wide big welcoming hugs daily. God I miss you both so much. Our lives feel so empty without you and Gigi. I’ve been completely broken inside. As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters days shine a little brighter. I’m not the strong one, they are. They’re strong and resilient. I’m sure you’re proud of them. They put a smile on my face every day. I wish I could wake up from this horrible nightmare.”
“I wish I could surprise our girls and welcome you and Gigi home to us. I’m mad I didn’t go first,” Bryant writes. “I always wanted to go first so that I selfishly didn’t have to feel this heartache. You are supposed to miss me. Gigi was supposed to be here with her sisters. It should’ve been me. There’s so much I wish I could tell you and show you and Gigi. So many things you would both be happy to see and be a part of. So many milestones for our girls. So many things you would have been proud of.”
“I’m so thankful I have pieces of heaven here on Earth to wake up for — thank YOU,” says Bryant. “Thank you for loving me enough to last several lifetimes. In every lifetime I would choose YOU. Thank you for showing me what real love is. Thank YOU for everything. I know my Gigi is celebrating you like she always has on our special days. I miss my thoughtful princess so much! Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, Capri and I wish you a happy birthday my love. I love you for now, forever and for always.”