Vanessa and Natalia Bryant Celebrate Gianna Bryant On What Would be Her 'Sweet 16' Birthday

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Vanessa and Natalia Bryant are honoring Gianna on what would have been her 16th birthday. On Sunday, Vanessa shared a sweet message on Instagram, dedicated to her and Kobe Bryant’s late daughter.  

“Love you always! Happy Birthday, Gianna. 😘❤️🥰 #Mambacita #2 ❤️❤️,” the 39-year-old wrote.  

Next to the message was an animated video, narrated by Vanessa.  

“Dear Gianna, from the first time you imagined winning a WNBA championship I knew one thing was real. You were special,” she said as clips of a young Gigi playing basketball, sitting courtside with her father and standing with a basketball in her hand played. 

“You came from greatness. But it was never about what you inherited. It was about what you gave to others. When someone stands up for gender equality, I see you fighting alongside them. And every time someone plays her hardest. I know that’s you on the court. Love you always, basketball,” Vanessa continued.  

The video tribute was a reimagined version of Kobe’s Oscar-winning animated short, Dear Basketball. In a previous post, Vanessa shared a video of Gianna playing basketball in a formal dress, a clip of her in action on the basketball court, and  mimicking one of her father’s moves.  

“Happy 16th birthday baby girl. I love you Gigi! We miss you so much. ❤️ #MAMBACITA #5106,” she wrote. Vanessa and Kobe’s oldest daughter, Natalia, took to her respective Instagram account to dedicate a message of her own.  

“happy sweet sixteen my dearest gigi♥️I love you to the moon and back 🌙forever & always,” the 20-year-old wrote next to a throwback picture of her planting a kiss on her little sister’s cheek as she smiles.

In honor of Gianna's 16th birthday, Nike released a limited edition shoe, the Mambacita Sweet 16. The black and white basketball sneaker pays homage to Gigi with the snakeskin pattern, red shoe laces, the number 2 on soles and insoles as well as Gigi and her father's names on the back of the shoe. 

Gianna and her father, along with seven others, died on Jan 26, 2020, after a helicopter they were riding in crashed on the way to a basketball tournament. In the years since the accident, Vanessa, who is also mother of Bianka, 5, and 2-year-old Capri, has been keeping her daughter’s mission for equality in sports alive.  

In February, while accepting the Be Your Own Champion Award during the Sports Power Brunch, the mother-of-four made a vow to keep her daughter’s legacy alive.  

"In everything I do -- whether it’s through the work of our foundation or the storytelling at Granity -- I want to provide young girls with opportunities to showcase their talents and to dominate in their fields," she said in part of her speech. "It was important to Kobe, it was exemplified by Gigi and it is something for which Natalia, Bianka, Capri and I will always fight for." 


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