Vanessa Bryant has shared a moving tribute to her daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant on what would have been Gigi's 14th birthday.
Gigi, a rising basketball star, died on January 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash alongside her dad, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and seven other people. Known affectionately as Mambacita, a nickname that mirrors Kobe’s “Black Mamba" moniker, Gigi made no secret of the fact she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps — something he wholeheartedly supported.
Since her passing, tributes for Gianna have kept pouring in in different forms. A day after her death, the UConn Huskies women's basketball team, which Gigi had her eye on for college, paid homage to the young player by displaying what would have probably been her future team jersey. In February and by order of Vanessa Bryant, the Mamba Sports Foundation — Kobe’s sports academy and home to Gigi’s team — officially changed its name to The Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation to commemorate the father-daughter duo.
Harbor Day School retired Gigi’s No. 2 jersey back in early February during a heartfelt ceremony, and her memory was later honored in a memorial service held at the Staples Center later that month. On April 17, Gigi and friends and teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester (who were also killed in the crash) were all selected as honorary picks during the WNBA virtual draft. The WNBA also introduced a new award in their name, the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, that day.
The world of basketball and beyond might still be mourning her loss but to remember Gigi’s legacy on this special day, many have taken to social media to share heartfelt tributes and happy memories.
Vanessa Bryant honored Gigi on her 14th birthday in two Instagram posts. In the first, she shared a photo of a smiling Gigi, writing, "Happy 14th Birthday to my sweet baby girl, Gianna. Mommy loves you more than I can ever show you. You are part of MY SOUL forever. I miss you so much everyday. I wish I could wake up and have you here with me. I miss your smile, your hugs and your giggles. I miss EVERYTHING about YOU, Gigi. I LOVE YOU so much!!!!!!!"
In a follow-up, Vanessa urged people to remember Gigi by wearing red today and announced that red bracelets will soon be for sale to raise money for the Mamba & Mambacita Foundation.
"Gianna loved to wear a red bow in all of her school pictures," Vanessa wrote. "Red means love and life. To commemorate Gigi’s birthday today, please consider wearing red, caption an act of kindness or show how you will play Gigi’s way since she always gave everything she did her all and led with kindness."
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue