Vanessa Bryant honors late daughter Gigi to mark what would have been her 15th birthday: 'I wish you were here with us'
Vanessa Bryant paid tribute to her late daughter Gigi on what would have been her 15th birthday, one year after she died in a helicopter crash alongside her father Kobe Bryant.
To mark the date, the 38-year-old Mambacita founder shared a childhood throwback of her little girl as they hugged each other and smiled brightly at the camera.
'Dear Gianna, Happy 15th Birthday!' Vanessa captioned the photograph. 'I love you! I miss you everyday! I wish you were here with us.'
She went on: 'There are no words to express how much I miss you. I love you Mamacita! ❤️'
Her post comes just one day after unveiling the launch of a new Mambacita clothing line to honor the life and legacy of Gigi.
'Coming soon- 5/1. In honor of my Gigi’s 15th Birthday ❤️ Happy birthday, Gigi! 100% of the proceeds go to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation Unisex and Kids sizes available,' she captioned a series of slides modeling sweatsuits alongside her daughter Natalia, 18.
Their long dark locks and beautifully made-up faces were on display as they sported tie-dye sweatshirts and sweatpants in black and pink, all emblazoned with the Mambacita logo on the front.
The pants feature a graphic of the number 2 with a heart around it, a nod to Gianna's basketball jersey number.
All proceeds from the garments will go to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, the Bryant family's charity established to further Kobe and Gianna's legacy through charitable endeavors in sports.
The 501(c)(3) organization was originally called the Mamba Sports Foundation, but was renamed to also honor Vanessa and Kobe's daughter, Gigi, who was only 13-years-old when she died in a tragic helicopter crash along with her dad, teammates, and their parents on January 26, 2020.
The foundation's focus is the empowerment of young girls and providing equal opportunities to under-served athletes - something which Kobe has always been an advocate of.
In March, Kobe Bryant LLC submitted an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office seeking trademarks for phrases such as Lady Mambas, Lil Mambas, Mamba Sports Academy and Mambacitas.
The company affiliated with the late basketball player, who was 41 when he died, and his family told patenting officials that the line would be used for clothing items like tops, dresses, pants, socks and hooded sweatshirts; and activewear including footwear and bands, according to TMZ.
According to the outlet, the move could have been to preemptively block people from trying to cash in on the popularity of the family with the phrases associated with it. (Tom Brady made a similar move two years ago with the phrase Tom Terrific, and the trademark was denied.)
Also in March, Vanessa also got a 'Mambacita' tattoo on her wrist as a tribute to her late husband, whose nickname on the court was Black Mamba.
She then spoke out about the unimaginable pain and her journey through grief, following their devastating passing.
Bryant recently opened up about how she has coped with the loss by focusing on 'finding the light in darkness,' she said in the People magazine cover story.
'Lying in bed crying isn't going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again. But getting out of bed and pushing forward is going to make the day better for my girls and for me. So that's what I do.'
'My girls help me smile through the pain,' Vanessa revealed to the magazine.
Kobe and Vanessa are also parents to daughters Bianka, four, and Capri, 21 months old, adding: 'They give me strength.'
Vanessa said some days are harder than others, with the pain bringing her to her knees: 'I can't say that I'm strong every day. I can't say that there aren't days when I feel like I can't survive to the next.'
'The pain is unimaginable [but] you just have to get up and push forward,' she continued. 'I guess the best way to describe it is that Kobe and Gigi motivated me to keep going. They inspire me to try hard and be better every day. Their love is unconditional and they motivate me in so many ways.'
Kobe died on Sunday, January 26, 2020 after his helicopter crashed on a hillside in Calabasas, California alongside his daughter Gianna and seven others: John Altobelli, 56, Keri Altobelli, 46, Alyssa Altobelli, 14, Payton Chester, 13, Sarah Chester, 45, Christina Mauser, 38, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.
They were flying from Orange County to the Mamba Sports Academy, which he founded, in Thousand Oaks, California.
He was set to coach his daughter in the Mamba Cup Tournament Series.
Gigi was a rising star in women's basketball and played on the amateur girls' team coached by her father at his Mamba Academy. Kobe trademarked the name 'Mambacita' shortly before they died.