On Tuesday, nearly six months after Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash alongside their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, Vanessa announced the release of the former NBA star's first young adult book, Geese Are Never Swans.
Created by Kobe and written by psychologist Eva Clark, the book follows the story of Gus, a young boy who dreams of making it to the Olympics as a swimmer. His goal is similar to that of his late brother, Danny, who died by suicide after failing to make the nationals team himself. Despite a myriad of trials and tribulations, Gus begins to learn the healing power of sports.
"We're so proud to continue Kobe's mission to teach the power of emotion to the next generation of athletes. Kobe's first YA (young adult) title, #GeeseAreNeverSwans is officially out today," Vanessa shared on Instagram. "The novel focuses on the importance of mental health amongst young athletes and how sports can help overcome some of life's greatest setbacks."
"Thank you for continuing to support his legacy," she added. "This book also helped me deal with grief. I'm glad we still have his books to help us along the way."
Clark told People that the book was a labor of love, taking three years' worth of drafts, meetings and brainstorming sessions to complete it.
"Kobe had that spark, he was a storyteller," she recalled of what it was like working with the legendary Los Angeles Lakers player. "He was so dedicated to understanding stories: 'What’s our responsibility? How do you tell it to the people in need?'"
"Kobe was very interested in showing this athlete that had this extreme drive stemming from trauma that's [unfortunately] celebrated by people as successful, but they're not in touch with their trauma, which is why they're so angry," she continued. "He really wanted to show the healing: how to accept help, connect with other people, take care of yourself and still have drive and still be a great athlete. When you're not fighting, you're able to see more, go further."
Clark told the outlet that prior to his death, Kobe was really excited to release the book, which he hoped would help raise awareness about the importance of mental health in the sports world.
"There is still so much stigma around mental health, it's seen as something — especially in sports — that isn't talked about or people can’t open up about," she explained. "We need to take care of our athletes and honor every part of that, not just what we admire of them physically, but also what they're going through emotionally."
"He wanted to tell stories and connect with young people so they felt seen, motivated and like the world understood and cared about them," Clark added. "I think that was very, very important to him."