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Gianna Bryant’s Mom And Sister Celebrate What Would Have Been Her 16th Birthday

From left: Vanessa, Kobe, Natalia and Gianna Bryant in 2019.
From left: Vanessa, Kobe, Natalia and Gianna Bryant in 2019.
Christopher Polk via Getty Images

Vanessa Bryant took a moment this weekend to celebrate her late daughter Gianna’s 16th birthday.

She acknowledged the milestone Sunday on Instagram with an animated video done in the style of late husband Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning 2017 short “Dear Basketball.”

“From the first time you imagined winning a WNBA championship, I knew one thing was real: You were special,” Vanessa said in the clip. “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,” she continued. “And every time someone plays her hardest, I know that’s you on the court.”

The mother of four continued to pay tribute throughout the day on Sunday, posting throwback photos of Gianna as well as memorial billboards and art installations that have been erected in the two years since her death.

Kobe (left) and Gianna Bryant were among the nine passengers killed in a January 2020 helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Kobe (left) and Gianna Bryant were among the nine passengers killed in a January 2020 helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Paul Bereswill via Getty Images

“Happy birthday Mambacita,” she captioned one. “We love you Gigi!”

Vanessa wasn’t the only Bryant family member to acknowledge Gianna’s birthday. Also paying tribute was daughter Natalia, 19, who shared a throwback photo of her kissing her younger sister on the cheek.

“I love you to the moon and back,” Natalia wrote.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant were among the nine passengers killed in a January 2020 helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, about 30 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.

On Sunday, Nike also honored Gianna by unveiling a special pair of “Mambacita Sweet 16” shoes that feature a black snakeskin pattern. That same day, the Kobe and Gianna Bryant Dream Court ― a basketball court for families featuring a massive, butterfly-shaped sculpture depicting the pair courtside ― opened in Anaheim, California’s Pearson Park.

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