Vanessa Bryant is paying tribute to her late husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and their teenage daughter Gianna. On the eve of the first anniversary of their tragic deaths, Bryant shared an emotional letter penned by one of her daughter’s friends honoring the aspiring basketball star.
Bryant shared the letter to Instagram, where she also penned a note to her husband and daughter, who died in a helicopter crash last year. Thanking Gianna's friend, Aubrey, for "beautifully sharing some of your memories of my Gigi with me," Bryant remembered her daughter as "INCREDIBLE" and said she misses "my baby girl and Kob-Kob so much, too." Bryant said she "will never understand why/how this tragedy could've happened to such beautiful, kind and amazing human beings. It still doesn't seem real. Kob, we did it right. Gigi, you still make mommy proud. I love you!"
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In Aubrey's letter, she honored Gianna as "kind, caring and endlessly polite" and as someone who pushed her friends "to be better." She also said Gianna "attacked each day as though it was hers to conquer" said she "would smile and bring the rest of us up with her." Aubrey also praised Bryant, writing, "if I ever become a mother, I hope my daughter turns out exactly as yours did."
"There are times I get into a pit of despair thinking about her and what she could've accomplished had she had a couple more years. But recently I have been thinking about the mark she did leave on this earth," she continued in part. "Her fights for equality in sports made the world reconsider there (sic) opinions, she along with Mr. Bryant, set the wheels in motion. But on a lower level, on behalf of every person who came across her, I can say that she changed our lives. Her simple actions made all of us a better person, and I believe that the results of this will never stop appearing."
Aubrey ended her letter by telling Bryant she "did it right" when it came to raising her daughter. She added that she is "so, so blessed I got to have time with your angel of a daughter, and thank you for giving me that chance. I love you and am thinking of you as we remember and honor her life."
Bryant's husband and daughter were en route to a basketball game in a helicopter on the morning of Jan. 26, 2020, when the aircraft crashed on a hillside in Calabasas, California at around 10 a.m. All nine of those on board were killed. The victims included pilot Ara Zobayan, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli. Kobe was 41 and Gianna was just 13.