Vanessa Bryant Says Losing Husband Kobe Bryant and Daughter Gianna ‘Still Doesn’t Seem Real’ on 1st Anniversary of Their Deaths

Vanessa Bryant paid tribute to her late husband, Kobe Bryant, and their daughter Gianna on the one-year anniversary of their deaths.

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The 38-year-old took to Instagram on Tuesday, January 26, to share a moving letter she received from one of Gianna’s best friends, Aubrey Callaghan.

“Thank you so much for beautifully sharing some of your memories of my Gigi with me and allowing me to share them here on my ig. My Gigi is INCREDIBLE and I truly appreciate your thoughtful letter. She loves you so much. I miss my baby girl and Kob-Kob so much, too,” Vanessa captioned the post. “I will never understand why/how this tragedy could’ve happened to such beautiful, kind and amazing human beings. It still doesn’t seem real. Kob, we did it right. Gigi, you still make mommy proud. I love you! #PlayGigisWay #Mambacita #Mamba #DaddysGirl #GirlDad.”

In the letter, Callaghan wrote that the memory of Gianna’s “smile and attitude push [her] to be better” and that she hopes her future daughters turn out “exactly as [Vanessa’s] did.”

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Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Jessica Hill/AP/Shutterstock

“There are times I get into a pit of despair thinking about her and what she could’ve accomplished had she had a couple more years,” Callaghan continued. “But recently I have been thinking about the mark she did leave on this earth. Her fights for equality in sports made the world reconsider there [sic] opinions, she along with Mr. Bryant, set the wheels in motion. But on a lower level, on behalf of every person who came across her, I can say that she changed our lives.”

Kobe and Gianna were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, in January 2020. The basketball player was 41, while his daughter was 13.

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The NBA star and Vanessa tied the knot in April 2001. They also shared daughters Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 19 months.

The former model opened up earlier this month about coping with loss. “Let me be real — Grief is a messed up cluster of emotions,” she wrote via her Instagram Story on January 15. “One day you’re in the moment laughing and the next day you don’t feel like being alive. I want to say this for the people struggling with grief and heartbreaking loss. Find your reason to live.”

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She continued: “I know it’s hard. I look at my daughters and I try to push through that feeling for them. Death is guaranteed but living the rest of the day isn’t. Find your reason.”

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Kobe Bryant, Vanessa Bryant, Gianna Bryant and Natalia Bryant Jim Smeal/Shutterstock

Vanessa remembered Kobe and Gianna on the family’s first Christmas Day without them. “Always Together, Never Apart Together Forever In Our Hearts,” she captioned photos of herself and her loved ones via Instagram in December 2020.

The California native posted a special tribute to the athlete in August 2020 on what would have been his 42nd birthday. “To my baby~ Happy birthday. I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain. I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU! I wish I could make you your fav food or a birthday cake with my Gigi,” she noted on Instagram at the time. “I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud ass deep laugh. I miss teasing you, making you laugh and bursting your bubble. I miss you sitting on my lap like my big baby that you are. 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.”

Vanessa went on to detail the impact of her grief. “I wish I could wake up from this horrible nightmare. I wish I could surprise our girls and welcome you and Gigi home to us,” she concluded. “I’m mad I didn’t go first. I always wanted to go first so that I selfishly didn’t have to feel this heartache. You were supposed to miss me. Gigi was supposed to be here with her sisters. It should’ve been me.”