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Vanessa Bryant honors what would have been late daughter Gianna's 18th birthday with heartfelt tribute

Vanessa shared four daughters with the late Kobe Bryant, who died along with his daughter Gianna, then 13, in 2020

Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
April 30, 2024
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Vanessa Bryant is honoring her late daughter Gianna on what would have been her milestone 18th birthday.

It has been over four years since her daughter died aged 13 while traveling with her father Kobe Bryant, who was 41, in a helicopter, when it crashed onto the hills of Calabasas near Los Angeles on January 26, 2020.

The Los Angeles Lakers player's widow was married to the NBA legend for nearly 20 years before his untimely passing, and in their 19 years together welcomed daughters Natalia, 21, Bianka, seven, and Capri, who was seven months when he died.

Ahead of what would have been Gianna's 18th birthday on May 1 – Vanessa herself celebrates her 42nd birthday on May 5 – the doting mom took to Instagram to unveil her big tribute in her honor.

For the special day, Nike has issued a brand new colorway of their Nike Kobe 8 "Mambacita" sneakers – Kobe was known for his signature "mamba mentality" motto – which features a black-and-white butterfly motif with gold accents.

Vanessa shared two posts with photos of the new sneakers, one captioned: "MAMBACITA 5/1/2006 GIGI," and another with: "Gianna Gigi MAMBACITA 5/1/06," and fans and celebrities alike were quick to take to the comments section below with messages of support.

Vanessa Bryant unveils big tribute to honor daughter Gianna
Vanessa Bryant unveils big tribute to honor daughter Gianna

Khloé Kardashian, Kris Jenner, and Kathy Hilton left a string of heart and butterfly emojis, as others followed suit with: "So good!" and: "Wow! Absolute perfection," as well as: "Every detail is so beautiful."

MORE: Vanessa Bryant shares heartfelt ode to Kobe as she celebrates daughter Natalia's 21st birthday

MORE: Vanessa Bryant is joined by daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri in stunning family photos – and they look so grown up!

The Nike Basketball Instagram account also shared a video highlighting the shoes, which will be available for purchase right on Gianna's birth date.

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
The Bryant family in 2017

"Gigi changed the game. Forever," their caption read. "On 5.1 we celebrate Gianna 'Gigi' Bryant's 18th birthday and the transformational impact she had on highlighting women's sports with the release of the Kobe 8 Protro 'Mambacita.'"

They also noted profits will benefit the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which was founded in the wake of Kobe and Gianna's passing, and per their website, it's a nonprofit organization "dedicated to creating positive impact for underserved athletes and boys & girls in sports."

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