Kobe Bryant’s 17-year-old daughter, Natalia, shared a throwback photo with her late dad on what would have been his 42nd birthday.
“Happy birthday, Dad,” the teenager captioned a sweet shot of herself giggling in the athlete’s arms on Sunday, August 23. “I miss your smile, laugh and big bear hugs. Happy Birthday to the best movie buddy I could have ever asked for. I will always remember our late night drives to the movie theater with the windows rolled down and listening to our favorite songs.”
Natalia concluded, “I love you forever and always. Always, Slim.”
The former Los Angeles Lakers player died in January alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other victims in a helicopter crash. The Olympian is survived by his wife, Vanessa Bryant, Natalia and her younger sisters, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 14 months.
In May, Vanessa’s eldest posted a touching tribute to Gianna via Instagram. “Happy 14th Birthday Gigi!” Natalia wrote at the time. “I miss your smile everyday but I know you’re always smiling down on us from heaven with daddy. I LOVE YOU.”
The Instagram upload came one month after Vanessa, 38, delivered a eulogy for Kobe and their daughter in a public memorial at the Los Angeles Staples Center.
“Gianna had a sweet grace about her,” the California native said of Gianna in the February speech. “Her smile was like sunshine. Her smile took up her entire face, like mine. Kobe always said she was me. She had my fire, my personality and sarcasm, but she was tender and loving on the inside. She had the best laugh. It was infectious. It was pure and genuine. … Gianna made us all proud, and she still does.”
The philanthropist shared her own throwback photo on Sunday for Kobe’s birthday, writing, “I think about your tenderness and patience all the time. I think about everything you would do in situations to help me deal with everything thrown my way. Thank you for growing up with me and teaching me how to be strong.”
She and the Philadelphia native tied the knot in April 2001 in California.
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