This is the first year Vanessa Bryant is marking her wedding anniversary without her late husband Kobe Bryant

By Maria Pasquini
April 18, 2020 01:35 PM
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Vanessa Bryant/Instagram

Vanessa Bryant is honoring a bittersweet milestone with her late husband Kobe Bryant.

Vanessa, 37, commemorated the pair’s 19th wedding anniversary on Saturday, their first since the NBA legend’s death in January.

My king, my heart, my best friend. Happy 19th wedding anniversary baby,” she wrote alongside a throwback shot that showed Kobe giving her a kiss on the cheek as they cuddled up together.

“I miss you so much. I wish you were here to hold me in your arms. I love you,” the mother of four added.

The couple first met on the set of a music video in 1999, when Kobe was 20 and Vanessa was 17 — and shortly after their first date, which took place at Disneyland, they fell in love. The basketball star proposed to Vanessa after she turned 18, and the pair tied the knot on April 18, 2001.

They went on to welcome four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, Capri, 9 months, as well as Gianna, who died alongside her father at the age of 13.

Vanessa also shared a video clip from 2001, the year they tied the knot, in which her late husband praised his wife and opened up about how he first knew she was the one.

“You know, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes a person the one for you, but you just know,” he said in the throwback video. ”Love is a funny thing. I can’t explain it and I can’t understand it. All I know is, she caught my heart and I just knew that she was the one.”

Vanessa, she’s very strong. She’s very strong-willed,” he added, noting that in the future he saw them as being “two cool ass parents.”

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant with family
Vanessa Bryant/Instagram
Kobe and Vanessa Bryant
Jon Kopaloff/WireImage

The couple’s anniversary came one day after their 13-year-old daughter, who shared her father’s love of basketball, was honored by the WNBA.

During the WNBA draft on Friday, commissioner Cathy Englebert named Gianna and her Mamba Academy teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, who also died in the crash, honorary draftees.

“These athletes represented the future of the WNBA,” Englebert said of the three teenagers. “While it brings us pain not to see their dreams come to fruition, I’m grateful and proud to announce them tonight as honorary draft picks.”

“I’m so proud of you, Gigi. God I miss you baby,” Vanessa wrote in an Instagram tribute after the ceremony. “You’re the best, baby girl. Mommy loves and misses you more than I could ever express.”

Kobe and Gianna Bryant
Ethan Miller/Getty

Earlier this week, Vanessa also got emotional as she commemorated another milestone: the fourth year since her late husband retired from the NBA.

Mamba Day,” she wrote alongside footage from that final game, as she reflected on how little time her husband got to focus on his family. “My husband worked his ass off for 20 years. Gave it his all. All he wanted was to spend time with our girls and me to make up for lost time.”

“He wanted to be there for every single milestone and special moment in our girls lives. He only got to enjoy 3 years and 9 months of retirement. We had 2 more daughters, he won an Oscar, he opened Granity studios, he became a 5x best selling author and coached Gianna’s basketball team in that time,” she added.

Vanessa concluded her post, “Life truly isn’t fair. This is just senseless.”