“Happy birthday, Papi. Te Amo por siempre. Amor Eterno. ❤️💔 43,” the 39-year-old model captioned a throwback photo via Instagram on Monday, August 23. Ciara and Kelly Rowland were among the celebs to send Vanessa love in the comments.
Kobe and the couple’s daughter Gianna were among nine victims who died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, in January 2020. He was 41 at the time, while she was 13.
The NBA player was survived by Vanessa — whom he had been married to since April 2001 — and their three other daughters, Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 2.
Us Weekly confirmed in June that the former model reached a confidential settlement with the company that owned and operated the helicopter involved in the accident.
Vanessa honored Kobe in April on a milestone anniversary for the pair. “Happy Anniversary, baby. I love you. 20 years. @kobebryant,” she captioned an Instagram photo from their wedding day.
The California native also posted a video montage of herself and Kobe. “I love you for now, forever and for always @kobebryant,” she wrote.
In the clip, the former Los Angeles Lakers player voiced his feelings for his wife. “It’s fun. We have a good time together. I love her tremendously,” he gushed. “But we’re best friends too. It’s a blessing.”
The following month, Vanessa remembered Kobe in a speech when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “Dear Kobe, thank you for being the best husband and father you could possibly be,” she said. “Thank you for growing and learning from your own mistakes. Thank you for always trying to do better. Thank you for never giving up on us. Thank you for all of your hard work. Thank you for our family. Thank you for our daughters. Natalia, Gianna, Bianca and Capri. Thank you for working so tirelessly to provide for us and for giving us the most amazing life together.”
She added: “Thank you for being the Mickey to my Minnie, the Noah to my Allie. Thank you for loving me enough to last lifetimes. In every lifetime, I choose you.”
Ahead of honoring Kobe’s birthday, Us confirmed that Vanessa settled a lawsuit filed against her by her mother, Sofia Laine. The terms of the agreement were kept private.
Laine claimed in court documents obtained by Us in December 2020 that she worked as an unpaid “longtime personal assistant and nanny” for the Bryant family and that her late son-in-law “promised to take care of” her “for the rest of her life.”
Vanessa alleged in a statement to Us at the time that Kobe “never promised [her] mother anything” and denied that her mom was a personal assistant or nanny for the family.