By Sammy Strobel
Assistant Sports Editor
Aug. 23 would have been Kobe Bryant’s 42nd birthday. His wife, Vanessa Bryant, and their daughter, Natalia Bryant, honored him and their late daughter, Gianna (Gigi), with highly emotional messages.
Alongside a picture of herself and her late husband, Vanessa Bryant wrote on Instagram, “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!”
She added, “I wish I could make you your fav food or a birthday cake with my Gigi. 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. Thank you for growing up with me and teaching me how to be strong. How to try to see the best in people but cut out the bs. Your thoughtful gestures and the amazing way you made us all feel is extremely missed. I picture your smile and wide big welcoming hugs daily. 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 Bryant finished her post by writing, “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. 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.”
Kobe Bryant’s daughter, Natalia, also celebrated her late father’s birthday with an Instagram post. “Happy Birthday Dad❤️ 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. Always, Slim.”
Nike, along with several other former teammates and colleagues, also paid their tributes on the late NBA star’s birthday.