The Independent's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. 

Vanessa Bryant shares heartfelt post to celebrate late daughter’s 18th birthday

‘I’m proud of the change in sports you and daddy worked so hard on,’ Vanessa writes

Brittany Miller
New York
Wednesday 01 May 2024 21:47 BST
Related: Vanessa Bryant’s emotional tribute to Kobe and Gianna

Vanessa Bryant has been celebrating her late daughter Gianna’s 18th birthday.

On 26 January 2020, Vanessa’s husband and basketball legend, Kobe Bryant, along with their daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a helicopter crash that was flying over Calabasas, California, before crashing into the side of a hill.

To honour what would have been her middle child’s milestone birthday, she posted a montage of her playing basketball and hugging her father on Instagram.

“Happy birthday to my gorgeous girl, Gigi! I love you. I miss you. I’m so proud of you,” Vanessa’s caption began, using her daughter’s nickname. “2024 was your year. 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).”

Gianna was a basketball player, just like Kobe, and was on track to play throughout college and eventually at the professional level.

“I’m proud of the change in sports you and daddy worked so hard on. You continue to motivate me and inspire young women and girls daily. I love you always, mommy,” her caption concluded.

Leading up to Gianna’s birthday, Vanessa also promoted the release of Nike’s Kobe 8 Protro sneaker in Mambacita, which came out on 1 May. The shoe is black and white with black butterflies and gold accents.

“The Kobe 8 Protro ‘Mambacita’ honours Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant and the joy she brought to basketball and athletes around the world,” the shoe’s description on the Nike website reads. “Arriving on her 18th birthday, the colourway is inspired by her youth basketball team’s uniform while the butterfly pattern nods to Gigi’s transformational impact on the game.”

“Personal touches, like Gigi’s name and number on the heel, remind you to play with joy, curiosity and competitiveness while never taking any opportunity for granted, just like Gigi. And when it’s time to step on the court, the golden ‘Mambacita’ heart and wings let you carry Gigi’s passion for sport into the future.”

Vanessa is also the mother to three girls she shared with Kobe: 21-year-old Natalia, eight-year-old Bianka, and four-year-old Capri.

Recently, Vanessa also took to the platform to celebrate her and Kobe’s 23rd wedding anniversary. Her Instagram post featured various photos of the two of them together with a caption that read, “Happy anniversary @kobebryant #23.”

Back in November 2023, Vanessa commemorated the 24th anniversary of when she met Kobe for the first time when she was 17 and he was 21. Kobe himself talked about their meeting before in his 2015 documentary, Kobe Bryant’s Muse.

“It was a two-day video shoot, and I was always looking for her. Like, I wanted to know where she was,” he said. “I would finish a take and then go to my trailer, but I’d wonder where she is the entire time and then come out of the trailer and just want to talk to her some more in between takes and stuff like that.

“And she wrote her phone number down at the time when you had to still write phone numbers down, and I called her the very next day. We talked for hours.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in