Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, had four children with the late NBA star. They are, in order of their age: Natalia Diamante, 17; Gianna Maria-Onore, 13 (confirmed deceased in the helicopter crash); Bianka Bella, 3; and Capri Kobe, less than 1. Natalia, the oldest, turned 17 a week before the crash.
According to a breaking news report by TMZ on Sunday, Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash early Sunday morning. His daughter, Gianna, was also killed in the crash.
TMZ reported Bryant was traveling with at least eight other people at the time of the crash, including his daughter, Gianna. The pilot of the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter and all eight passengers were killed. Details on the tragedy are still emerging, though, and there have been conflicting reports about whether any of his other daughters or wife were involved in the crash. You can learn more about Bryant’s death here.
The other victims identified so far include Christina Mauser, who was one of Gianna’s basketball coaches, and Alyssa Altobelli, one of Gianna’s teammates. Alyssa’s parents, John and Keri Altobelli, also died in the crash.
Natalia Bryant, the oldest Bryant daughter, was born in January 2003. Then, Vanessa suffered a miscarriage in 2005, due to a reported ectopic pregnancy. Then, in May 2006, Vanessa gave birth to their second daughter, Gianna.
Vanessa and Bryant had their third and fourth daughters after they called off their divorce in 2013. Their third daughter Bianka was born in 2016, and their fourth and final daughter, Capri, was born in June 2019.
Bryant had nicknames for all his daughters. He called Natalia “Nani,” Bianka “B.B.,” Gianna “Gigi” and Capri “Koko.” He also frequently called Gianna “Mambacita,” in loving reference to her natural affinity for basketball.
Here’s what you need to know about Bryant’s kids and wife:
Kobe’s Daughter, Gianna AKA Gigi, Had Her Father’s Basketball Chops & Wanted to Play for UConn
TMZ and Sports Illustrated were the first to report that Gianna was with her father when the helicopter crashed. Early reports say that Bryant and his daughter were on their way to one of her basketball games when the helicopter crashed.
Gianna, also known as “Gigi,” had shown her father’s athletic talent from a young age. With her father constantly present and cheering her on from the sidelines, Gianna attracted online attention for her Mamba-like moves, though she was only 13 years old.
Per TMZ, Bryant stated in the past that his daughter was “hellbent” on playing college basketball for the University of Connecticut, a historical powerhouse for women’s basketball.
In April 2018, Bryant told The Courant of his daughter’s UConn obsession, “She watches their interviews, watches how they play and learns — not just in wins, but in tough losses, how they conduct themselves. It’s great, as a parent, to be able to see my daughter pull inspiration from them.”
Bryant shared in the past about how he and Gigi loved to watch basketball together. Bryant told BET in early 2020, “You know what’s funny? So before Gigi got into basketball I hardly watched it, but now that’s she’s into basketball, we watch every night.”
He also said that taking Gigi to games allowed him to appreciate basketball in a new light. “We just had so much fun [going to a game] because it was the first time I was seeing the game through her eyes,” he explained. “It wasn’t me sitting there you know as an athlete or a player or something like that, and you know it’s like about me, and I don’t like that. It was her, she was having such a good time.”
In the last two years of his life, Bryant coached Gianna’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team. In an interview with USA Today Sports just a few days before he died, Bryant said, “Coaching youth sports is so important to take very seriously because you’re helping the emotional [development] of young kids. So it’s understanding not to be overcritical and understanding that [there] are going to be mistakes.”
To say that Bryant was proud of Gianna would be an understatement. In an appearance with Jimmy Kimmel, Bryant confirmed that Gigi wanted to play in the WNBA, and said,
The best thing that happens is when we go out, and fans come up to me [when Gianna is standing next to me] and they’ll be like, ‘You gotta have a boy…you gotta have someone to carry on the tradition and the legacy!’ And she’s like, ‘Oi, I got this.’ And [I’m like], ‘Yes you do. You got this.’
Now, in the wake of the heartbreaking news about Bryant and Gianna, many are mourning the loss of one legend, not to mention the stolen potential of another future legend.
Fellow NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, who was famously close with Bryant, tweeted of the news, “There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW”
Shaq added in a subsequent tweet, “Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah.”
Barack Obama also paid tribute to the loss of the dynamic father-daughter duo. He tweeted, “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
Director Ava DuVernay tweeted, “I remember Kobe bringing his daughters to the WRINKLE IN TIME premiere and talking about its meaning for him as a father. He loved his girls so. LA weeps today, as do fans around the world. Goodbye, Kobe and Gianna. Our memories of you will live on and on.”
Kobe’s Oldest Daughter, Natalia, Turned 17 Years Old a Week Before the Crash
Bryant’s oldest, Natalia, turned 17 a week before his shocking death. Natalia doesn’t appear to have her own public social media accounts, but her father and mother frequently posted about their daughter on Instagram.
For her 17th birthday, Kobe wrote to his daughter, “Happy Birthday my baby. I love you beyond measure. You will always be my little Principessa #17.”
In 2003, Bryant spoke with Jet Magazine about being a new father to Natalia, who was three months old when he gave the interview. Of fatherhood and being a husband, Bryant said, “I’ve learned how to be patient. Patience and listening, you must have those in a relationship [and to be a good father].”
He added that when he wasn’t playing basketball, he was at his house “messing around with my wife and Natalia all day pretty much. Reading to her, watching TV, jumping her up and down. She follows and she smiles.”
Bryant went on, “I’m really looking forward to when she turns two, three, and then you can start having all types of fun.” As for his philosophy as a new parent, he said, “My philosophy is I want to teach my daughter Natalia to pretty much experience life to the fullest, the ups and downs. I know some parents don’t want their kids to go through any down periods. I do. I’ll be there; I’ll support her.”
Natalia doesn’t play basketball like her sister Gianna did, but she is an avid volleyball player. Bryant often celebrated his “Nani’s” athletic chops, too. In one Instagram post, which included two videos of Natalia playing volleyball, he wrote, “Proud of the way our team performed this weekend. Way to play NANI! #mambawall #thatsmybaby #slide.”
For Natalia’s 16th birthday, Bryant wrote, “Happy 16th Birthday my baby! I’m beyond proud of the young woman you have become. You are kind, intelligent, hardworking, caring, loving and beautiful inside and out. There aren’t enough words to express how much I love you principessa.”
Bryant Was Married to Vanessa Bryant at the Time of His Death
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, has a private Instagram account with 1.9 million followers. According to Bryant, he met his wife in 1999. Bryant was 21 at the time, and Vanessa was 17. According to an E! True Hollywood Story profile of Bryant, he proposed to her six months after they first met, and they did not sign a prenuptial agreement. Vanessa’s name prior to marrying Bryant was Vanessa Laine; she’s half Irish and half Mexican, according to E! True Hollywood Story.
Vanessa and Bryant were married in 2001. They filed for divorce in 2011 but would go on to announce their decision to stay together in 2013.
According to a Los Angeles Times profile of Vanessa, she was recruited to appear in music videos as a teenager, and she met Bryant through their shared appearances and connections in the music industry. The pair announced their engagement on her 18th birthday. Bryant’s parents didn’t attend their 2001 wedding, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Kobe’s Youngest Daughter, Capri Kobe, Was Born in June 2019 & Named After Him
Bryant and Vanessa welcomed their youngest daughter, Capri, into the world on June 20, 2019. Bryant announced the birth of his fourth daughter with an adorable photo posted to Instagram of the tiny Capri wrapped in cotton candy.
Bryant wrote, “Our little princess Capri Kobe Bryant “KoKo” 6/20/19 ❤️”
In an interview in the fall of 2019, Bryant revealed to Extra that Capri had been their “best baby” so far. He said, “She has been our best baby. She sleeps like six hours. She’s an absolute sweetheart.”
When asked whether he and Vanessa would try for a boy, Bryant replied, “It’s Vanessa’s decision to make. She wants a boy more than I do. I’m comfortable having girls. It drives her crazy when I say that — she says, ‘We’re gonna get five girls ’cause you spoke it to existence.'”
Bryant Frequently Showed His Love for His Wife & Daughters on Instagram & in Interviews
During the years after his retirement, Bryant frequently posted photos of and tributes to his family. For Mother’s Day 2019, Bryant posted a photo of his entire family, along with a very pregnant Vanessa, who would soon give birth to Capri.
Bryant wrote, “Happy Mother’s Day @vanessabryant we love you and thank you for all that you do for our family. You are the foundation of all that we hold dear. I love you #mybaby #lioness #mamabear #queenmamba.”
In an ABC News interview in 2019, Bryant explained how being a father to all daughters had changed him as a man. While promoting a new children’s book called Legacy and the Queen, about a young girl who plays tennis, he said, “I have four girls at home … It’s important that they see characters that look like them, and that they see athletes.”
Bryant continued with a smile, “They get tired of my voice, of [me saying], ‘Be persistent, work hard, believe in yourself.’ They’re kind of like, ‘Okay, Dad, I get it.’ So when I can put them into stories like that, hopefully they’ll get that same message without hearing it [from their dad] all the time.”
READ NEXT: Kobe Bryant Dies in Helicopter Crash: Report