Vanessa Bryant paid tribute to her late spouse Kobe Bryant on what would have marked his 45th birthday on Wednesday.
At 41, Vanessa commemorated the iconic basketball player’s birthday with a heartfelt message accompanied by nostalgic photos of their times together.
“Happy birthday, baby. I love you always & forever. #82378,” she penned on her Instagram, using the hashtag to signify his birth date.
Kobe and Vanessa spent twenty years as a married couple, having initially crossed paths during a music video shoot in 1999. At the time, Kobe was 20 and Vanessa was 17.
Their wedding took place on April 18, 2001, in Dana Point, California. Subsequently, they became parents to daughters Natalia in 2003 and Gianna in 2006.
After Kobe retired from the NBA, concluding 20 seasons, he shared the news through a poem in The Players’ Tribune on November 29, 2015. After his retirement, he and Vanessa were blessed with two daughters: Bianka in 2016 and Capri in 2019.
In the early months of 2020, the world mourned as Kobe tragically passed away in a helicopter accident, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other individuals, including the pilot and members of her basketball team.
Coinciding with the Wednesday commemoration, Vanessa unveiled the Kobe Bryant 8 Protro sneaker she designed. “The Halo concept will be an annual release that will honor and celebrate this special date,” Nike stated on their official website.
A monochromatic teaser of the footwear was displayed on Vanessa’s Instagram profile. “Kobe 8 ‘Halo’ 8.23.23. This will be one of many Kobe 8 ‘Halo’ styles coming soon,” she noted in the description.
In March of 2021, Vanessa shared to the media how her children have been her beacon, helping her “smile through the pain” and give her strength in times of sorrow and loss.
“This pain is unimaginable [but] you just have to get up and push forward. Lying in bed crying isn’t going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again.”
“But getting out of bed and pushing forward is going to make the day better for my girls and for me. So that’s what I do,” Vanessa expressed.
When reflecting on “finding the light in darkness,” Vanessa shared how the enduring legacies of her late daughter and spouse continue to touch her heart.
“The best way to describe it is that Kobe and Gigi motivate me to keep going. They inspire me to try harder and be better every day. Their love is unconditional and they motivate me in so many different ways,” she stated.