On what would have been Kobe Bryant's 42nd birthday, his widow, Vanessa, wrote a heartbreaking message as a tribute to the sports legend and her late daughter, Gianna.
“To my baby~Happy birthday," Vanessa wrote Sunday. "I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain. I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU!”
She also gave credit to her daughters for their fortitude.
“I picture your smile and wide big welcoming hugs daily. God I miss you so much. Our lives feel so empty without you and Gigi. I’ve been completely broken inside. As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters days shine a little brighter. I’m not the strong one, they are. They’re strong and resilient.”
Vanessa continued, “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...I’m so thankful to have pieces of heaven here on earth to wake up for- thanks to YOU. Thank you for loving me enough to last several lifetimes. In every lifetime I would choose YOU.”
Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California in January.
Many others honored the former Los Angeles Laker and “Mambacita,” who was carving out her own basketball career. They were on their way to Gianna’s basketball practice when the helicopter crashed.
Nike released a commercial narrated by artist Kendrick Lamar, echoing the message to “be better,” while showing clips of Kobe as a girl dad, husband, and NBA superstar who was a life-long Laker.
ESPN, Kendrick Lamar, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Snoop Dogg and LeBron James are also among those who have paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna.