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Vanessa Bryant is commemorating what would have been Kobe's 42nd birthday. In a heartbreaking note posted to Instagram on Sunday, Vanessa remembered her husband, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 alongside their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others.
"To my baby~ Happy birthday," Vanessa began. "I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain. I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU! I wish I could make you your fav food or a birthday cake with my Gigi."
"I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud ass deep laugh. I miss teasing you, making you laugh and bursting your bubble. I miss you sitting on my lap like my big baby that you are. I think about your tenderness and patience all the time. I think about everything you would do in situations to help me deal with everything thrown my way," she continued. "Thank you for growing up with me and teaching me how to be strong. How to try to see the best in people but cutout the bs. Your thoughtful gestures and the amazing way you made us all feel is extremely missed. I picture your smile and wide big welcoming hugs daily."
Vanessa went on, noting how much she misses Kobe and Gigi, and how life "feels so empty" without them. "I’ve been completely broken inside. As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters days shine a little brighter. I’m not the strong one, they are. They’re strong and resilient. I’m sure you’re proud of them. They put a smile on my face everyday," she shared.
"I wish I could wake up from this horrible nightmare," continued Vanessa, who is also mom to 17-year-old Natalia, 3-year-old Bianka and 1-year-old Capri. "I wish I could surprise our girls and welcome you and Gigi home to us. I’m mad I didn’t go first. I always wanted to go first so that I selfishly didn’t have to feel this heartache. You were supposed to miss me. Gigi was supposed to be here with her sisters. It should’ve been me."
"There's so much I wish I could tell you and show you and Gigi. So many things you would both be happy to see and be a part of. So many milestones for our girls. So many things you would be proud of. I’m so thankful I have pieces of heaven here on earth to wake up for- thanks to YOU," she expressed.
Vanessa concluded, "Thank you for loving me enough to last several lifetimes. In every lifetime I would choose YOU. Thank you for showing me what real love is. Thank YOU for everything. I know my Gigi is celebrating you like she always has on our special days. I miss my thoughtful princess so much! Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, Capri and I wish you a happy birthday my love. I love you for now, forever and for always."
Later, Vanessa reposted a tribute video shared by The Player's Tribune, featuring Dwyane Wade, Lisa Leslie, Derek Fisher and others.
Both Nike and the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation have posted tributes to Kobe ahead of "Kobe Bryant Day" on Monday. Aug. 24 represents the two jersey numbers -- 8 and 24 -- which Kobe wore during his legendary NBA career.