Kobe Bryant Shared Emotional Tribute to Wife Vanessa Weeks Before Tragic Death: 'My Queen'

"I love you my mamacita," he wrote in a sweet note on Instagram

Kobe Bryant‘s love for his wife Vanessa will be one of his most everlasting legacies.

The 41-year-old athlete — who, along with his daughter Gianna and seven other people, died on Sunday in a helicopter crash — penned an emotional note to Vanessa two months ago to mark the anniversary of the first day they met.

Sharing a throwback photo of the two of them together on Instagram, Bryant wrote in a post shared on Instagram Nov. 27, “On this day 20 years ago I met my best friend, my Queen @vanessabryant.”

The basketball star also posted a picture of the two at present day, which showed the parents of four posing in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant
Kobe Bryant/Instagram

He shared in the caption, “I decided to take her on a date to Disneyland tonight to celebrate old school style (pre 4princesses)”

“I love you my mamacita per sempre,” he added. (Per sempre means “forever” in Italian.)

Bryant married Vanessa in 2001. The couple went on to have four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Gianna, 13, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant
Kobe Bryant/Instagram

A source in Newport Beach, where Bryant is based out of, recently told PEOPLE that the family “not your typical Newport Beach family.”

“A lot of families have parents that constantly work and kids that are being raised by nannies. The Bryants have always been different. The focus on family has always been a priority. Vanessa is a stay-at-home mom and after Kobe stopped playing basketball, the main focus has been about raising their daughters,” the source said.

Bryant and his daughter Gianna were on their way to a youth basketball game in Thousand Oaks with parents and players from the team when their helicopter crashed amid foggy conditions in Calabasas, California and burst into flames.

Kobe Bryant
Maxx Wolfson/Getty

Bryant previously shared that he began using helicopters while he still played for the Los Angeles Lakers as a way to spend more time with his family — and less time stuck in traffic.

Sarah Chester and her daughter, eighth-grader Payton, the head basketball coach at Orange Coast College John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, girls basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan were also on the aircraft during the incident. There were no survivors.

Another source told PEOPLE that Bryant and his wife made a point not to fly together.

“He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together,” the source said.

Vanity Fair Oscar Party, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Feb 2019
Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

“I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play,” he told Alex Rodriguez in 2018. “I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time.”

“So that’s when I looked into helicopters, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes and that’s when it started,” he said.

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