Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant tragically died on January 26, 2020, during a private helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, leaving behind wife Vanessa Bryant and their three daughters — Natalia Diamante, Bianka Bella and their youngest, Capri Kobe. Their second-born daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Maria-Onore, died along with her father in the crash as well as seven other people.
Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser and the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, also lost their lives that fateful day.
In honor of what would have been Kobe’s 43rd birthday, Vanessa shared a heartfelt tribute. “Happy birthday, Papi,” she captioned a throwback photo on August 23, 2021. “Te Amo por siempre. Amor Eterno.”
The iconic NBA player and Vanessa met in 1999 and were married two years later on April 18, 2001. The pair, who first crossed paths during a music video shoot, announced they were expecting their fourth child on January 1, 2019.
“Vanessa and I are beyond excited to announce that we are expecting another #mambacita to go along with Natalia, Gianna and Bianka #blessed #bryantbunch #daddysprincesses #love #2019,” he wrote on Instagram at the time.
In a matching post on her own Instagram account at the time, Vanessa revealed that their daughters Natalia and Gianna were “super excited to welcome another little baby sister to love.”
Following the devastating loss of Kobe and Gianna, Vanessa changed her account to private. However, shortly after, Vanessa made her Instagram public once more and changed her icon photo to one of her late husband and daughter.
While opening up about his “little princesses” in 2017 to Extra, Kobe said his wife was hoping for a son to join their daughters one day.
“I hear boys are just walking tornadoes. We’ll see. I think Vanessa wants a boy more than I do,” he told the outlet, before adding, “My friends say, ‘It takes a real man to make a boy.’ I’m like, ‘Dude, it takes a king to make a princess … get in line!'”
Kobe’s outspoken pride of being a “girl dad” has since warmed the hearts of fans all over the world. Meanwhile, his contributions to the NBA have also gone on to inspire.
“Tonight we celebrate the kid that came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad that we’ve seen over the last three years,” the small forward said while addressing a packed crowd at the Staples Center in 2020. “Tonight is a celebration.”
“Kobe is a brother to me,” LeBron continued. “From the time I was in high school watching him from afar, to getting in this league at 18 and watching him up close, all the battles that we had throughout my career, the one thing that we always shared was that determination to just want to win, to just want to be great.”
Scroll down to learn about Kobe’s loving wife and children.
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