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Vanessa Bryant shares unseen photos with Kobe Bryant in heartbreaking tribute for 45th birthday

Kobe's wife honored what would have been a milestone birthday for the late Lakers legend


Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant attend the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
23 August 2023
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Vanessa Bryant is honoring her late husband Kobe Bryant on what would have been a very special, milestone date for the NBA legend.

The Lakers player, who passed away on January 26, 2020, would have been celebrating his 45th birthday this Wednesday, August 23 of 2023.

The basketball star, who was 41 at the time of his death, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, near Los Angeles, California along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other passengers.

WATCH: Kobe Bryant and daughter Gigi laid to rest

In honor of Kobe's birthday, Vanessa took to Instagram to pay tribute to her husband, and shared a slew of candid photos of the two together throughout the years.

The first photo in the carousel is one of Kobe with a smile on his face, tightly embracing his wife as she plants a kiss on his cheek.

Other pics see the couple posing side by side throughout the years, in New York City in the winter, at red carpet events, in Kobe's locker room, and even at the 90th Annual Academy Awards in March 2018, when he won his Oscar for for Best Animated Short Film for his six-minute film Dear Basketball, which he wrote and narrated.

Photo shared by Vanessa Bryant on Instagram August 2023 in honor of her late husband Kobe Bryant's 45th birthday where she's seen kissing him on the cheek© Instagram
Vanessa shared several sweet photos of her and Kobe

"Happy birthday, baby," Vanessa wrote in her caption, adding: "I love you always & forever," alongside a red heart emoji and the hashtag for Kobe's birth date, "82378."

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MORE: Vanessa Bryant shares family joy after devastating loss as fans send support

The comments section was quickly flooded with messages in Kobe's honor from celebrities and fans alike, with Kris Jenner and Khloe Kardashian, the latter being a good friend of Vanessa, leaving a string of heart emojis behind, as Zoe Saldaña commented: "Your love is blessed," and comedian Loni Love added: "We love and miss you Kobe!!! V keep being fabulous!!"

Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant during The 2002 Teen Choice Awards in Universal City, California© Getty
Kobe and Vanessa met in 1999

More fans of Kobe and Vanessa also wrote: "Sending you so much love today," and: "Thinking about you both today," as well as: "Happy Birthday Kobe. Love these pics of you two," plus another also commented: "True Love FOREVER AND EVER."

Vanessa never fails to honor Kobe's legacy, and last year, she also shared a touching tribute on what would have been his 44th birthday.

Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant attend the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California© Getty
The couple were married for almost 20 years

"Happy birthday, baby! I love you and miss you so much!" she wrote at the time, alongside the hashtag #44 and a red heart emoji, sharing a photo of them where Kobe is sporting a Lakers t-shirt, the only team he ever played for during his two-decade NBA career, and he is holding on tightly to Vanessa.

MORE: Vanessa Bryant pays emotional tribute to Gigi and Kobe Bryant on poignant anniversary

Kobe Bryant, wife Vanessa Bryant and daughters Gianna Maria Onore Bryant, Natalia Diamante Bryant and Bianka Bella Bryant attend Kobe Bryant's jersey retirement ceremony at Staples Center on December 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California© Getty
Kobe with his wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia, Gigi and Bianka in 2017

Kobe and Vanessa started dating shortly after they first met in 1999, when he was 21 and she was 17 years old.

They got engaged six months into their romance, and tied the knot in the spring of 2001. Aside from Gianna, they also welcomed daughters Natalia, 20, Bianka, six, and Capri, four.

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