For Vanessa Bryant, Anniversary Tribute to Kobe Caps Emotional Week

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant

Getty Vanessa and Kobe Bryant

Back in 2001, Kobe and Vanessa Bryant were married in Dana Point, California, at a ceremony that would foreshadow the couple’s up-and-down life together—Bryant’s parents disapproved of the match with Vanessa, who was only 18 at the time, and did not attend.

Now, 19 years later, Vanessa Bryant is spending her first anniversary since then without her husband, who died tragically in a helicopter crash with the couple’s daughter, Gianna, and seven others in Calabasas, California, on January 26.

She posted a tribute to him on Instagram on Saturday, an old photo of the pair sitting on a sofa, Kobe Bryant kissing her on the cheek.

“My king, my heart, my best friend. Happy 19th wedding anniversary baby. I miss you so much. I wish you were here to hold me in your arms. I love you,” Vanessa Bryant wrote.

WNBA Honored Kobe, Gianna & Two Teammates

The message on Saturday capped an emotional week for the Bryant clan. On Friday, the WNBA honored the commitment Kobe and Gianna Bryant had to the league by drafting Gianna Bryant and her teammates, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, into the league as honorary selections.

The three were among those killed in the January crash.

In a video message, Vanessa Bryant said:

“Thank you so much for honoring my Gigi and selecting her to be an honorary draft pick this year. It would have been a dream come true for her. She worked tirelessly every single day. She wanted to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, just like her daddy. So thank you, thank you for honoring my little girl. Kobe and Gigi loved the WNBA.”

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert on Friday also announced the Kobe and Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, which will be unveiled at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis. It will recognize the “individual or group who has made significant contributions to the visibility, perception and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels.”

Englebert said in a statement: “Kobe was an incredible champion of women’s basketball and Gianna shared his passion and dedication to our game. The Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award will honor their legacy and reflect Kobe’s commitment to mentoring the next generation of players, promoting the game and giving back to the community.”

Vanessa Bryant Posted Emotional Tribute to Kobe’s Final Game

On Monday, Vanessa Bryant had another Kobe-related anniversary on her mind—the fourth anniversary of his final game in the NBA, in which he scored 60 points on the Jazz in 2016.

She posted a highlight video from that game. Alongside it:

My husband worked his ass off for 20 years. Gave it his all. All he wanted was to spend time with our girls and me to make up for lost time. He wanted to be there for every single milestone and special moment in our girls lives. He only got to enjoy 3 years and 9 months of retirement. We had 2 more daughters, he won an Oscar, he opened Granity studios, he became a 5x best selling author and coached Gianna’s basketball team in that time. She worked hard and gave her all 7 days a week just like her daddy. I wish I could go back to that morning, every day. I wish they had a normal local game on 1/26. Life truly isn’t fair. This is just senseless.

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