Vanessa Bryant shared a heart-wrenching birthday tribute to her late husband Kobe Bryant on what would’ve been 42nd birthday on Sunday.
As the mother-of-four marked the 18-time All-Star’s first birthday after he was killed in a helicopter crash in California, she expressed yearning to ‘wake up from this horrible nightmare.’
‘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,’ the 38-year-old wrote on Instagram of her late teenage daughter Gianna, who passed alongside her father on January 26.
She added: ‘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.’
Additionally, Vanessa thanked her husband of nearly 20 years for teaching her ‘how to be strong’ and ‘see the best in people.’
‘God I miss you both 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. I’m sure you’re proud of them. They put a smile on my face everyday,’ Vanessa told her 13.7 million Instagram followers.
In a devastating confession, she admits to being ‘mad’ she ‘didn’t go first’ because she ‘selfishly’ didn’t want to ‘feel this heartache.’
‘I’m mad I didn’t go first. I always wanted to go first so that selfishly I didn’t have to feel this heartache,’ she wrote.
‘You were supposed to miss me. Gigi was supposed to be here with her sisters. It should’ve been me,’ she wrote of their three other daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and 14-month-old Capri.
The couple’s eldest, Natalia, also posted in memory of her father.
‘Happy Bithday Dad,’ the teenager captioned a childhood throwback. ‘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. I love you forever and always.’
In her sweet picture, Kobe can be seen smiling and tickling Natalia’s chin, who appears to be just a tot at the time.
Among the outpourings of love and support across social media, the player’s longtime pal Alex Rodriguez, asked fans to ‘please say a prayer for Vanessa and his family.’
‘Legends are missed, but never forgotten,’ Rodriguez captioned a series of photos of himself and the NBA star, along with one of Vanessa and his fiancé Jennifer Lopez.
He continued: ‘I had the pleasure of calling Kobe Bryant my friend for 20 years. Nobody, and I mean nobody, worked harder and more passionately to be great, day in and day out. As a player, as a coach, as a mentor, as a husband and as a father.’
Also joining A-Rod with social media tributes was Kim Kardashian, who shared a snap of the Bryant family and Snoop Dogg, who created a special video.
Justin Timberlake opted to share a video of Kobe effortlessly scoring a shot from the three-point line, before running to give the singer a high-five.
‘HBD KING,’ the ten-time Grammy winner captioned his Instagram video. ‘MAMBA FOREVER.’
Additionally, on his Instagram Story, he shared two snaps from when the five-time NBA champion honored him with the Teen Choice Decade Award in 2016.
‘Miss you brother,’ Timberlake wrote.
Nike has created its own video tribute, narrated by Kendrick Lamar, which speaks to his legacy.
Additionally, the brand has dubbed this week as ‘Mamba Week’ and Sunday ‘Mamba Day.’
The corporation is also donating $1 million to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.
The Lakers are also planning to wear their ‘Black Mamba’ uniforms on Monday during their playoff game Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Among the Kardashian Jenner clan, Khloé sent a lavish bouquet of pale pink roses and Kris Jenner shared the same family photo of the Bryant family, as daughter Kim.
‘Happy Birthday Kobe!!!! The world is just not the same without you,’ the momager wrote. ‘We all miss you!!! Xoxo.’
Among other gifts presented to Vanessa were a giant bouquet in the shape of Mickey Mouse, popcorn and Sour Patch Kids.
‘Kobe will always be the Mickey to my Minnie,’ she gushed, before explaining he use to always give her the red Sour Patch Kids.