Vanessa Bryant mourns Kobe and Gianna Bryant on the one-year anniversary of their loss

"It still doesn't seem real," Bryant shared on Instagram, alongside an emotional letter.

Kobe Bryant shares a moment with daughter Gianna Bryant
Vanessa Bryant/Instagram

Vanessa Bryant marked the one-year anniversary of the loss of her husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and their daughter, Gianna, by sharing an emotional letter written by one of Gianna's best friends.

Bryant, who is also mom to daughters Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 1, shared the letter to Instagram.

"Today I received this sweet letter from one of Gianna's best friends, Aubrey," Bryant began. "I love you Aubz (as my Gigi would call you). Thank you so much for beautifully sharing some of your memories of my Gigi with me and allowing me to share them here on my ig. My Gigi is INCREDIBLE and I truly appreciate your thoughtful letter. She loves you so much. I miss my baby girl and Kob-Kob so much, too."


"I will never understand why/how this tragedy could've happened to such beautiful, kind and amazing human beings," Bryant continued. "It still doesn't seem real. Kob, we did it right. Gigi, you still make mommy proud. I love you!"

On January 26, 2020, Kobe and Gianna boarded a private plane with a group of friends, including Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, John and Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli. The group was traveling to a basketball game in a helicopter piloted by Ara Zobayan when it crashed in Calabasas, California. Kobe Bryant was 41 years old. Gianna was just 13.

Vanessa Bryant's post shares an emotional letter written to her by Aubrey Callaghan, who recounts some of her favorite memories of her friend, Gianna.

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"Gianna was fiery and stubborn, she knew what she wanted and she fought to get it. […] She knew when I was having a bad day, and knew just how to make it better. She was generous with her snacks when I forgot mine. She left me notes in my notebook that I cherish. She was incredible," she writes.

"You have probably heard this, but if I ever become a mom, I hope my daughter turns out exactly as yours did. She was kind, caring and endlessly polite."

Later in the letter, Aubrey reflects on Gianna's legacy.

"There are times I get into a pit of despair thinking about her and what she could've accomplished had she had a couple more years. But recently I have been thinking about the mark she did leave on this earth. Her fights for equality in sports made the world reconsider there opinions, she along with Mr. Bryant, set the wheels in motion. But on a lower level, on behalf of every person who came across her, I can say that she changed our lives. Her simple actions made all of us a better person, and I believe that the results of this will never stop appearing."

Aubrey ended her letter by thanking Bryant for raising Gianna and telling her she "did it right."

"I hope that in the midst of your intense sadness you catch a glimpse of joy in who the daughter you created and raised was. You did it right Mrs. Bryant, and we are all eternally grateful to you."

At the time of his death, Kobe Bryant was four years into retirement from the NBA. He played his entire 20-year-career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five championships.

Bryant was a philanthropist, investor, author and producer. In 2018, Bryant became the first African-American to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film Dear Basketball. He was also a champion of women's sports and proud #GirlDad.

In the past year, Vanessa Bryant has shared several tributes to her late husband and daughter. Last month, she shared a recent family portrait of herself with her daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. She also shared a family portrait that featured Kobe and Gianna, writing, "Always Together, Never Apart Together Forever In Our Hearts. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ Kobe, Vanessa, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri."

In a separate post, she reflected on her grief across the past year.

"Grief is a messed up cluster of emotions. One day you're in the moment laughing and the next day you don't feel like being alive. I want to say this for people struggling with grief and heartbreaking loss. Find your reason to live. I know it's hard. I look at my daughters and I try to push through that feeling for them. Death is guaranteed but living the rest of the day isn't. Find your reason."

Like Aubrey, we hope that the Bryant family draws comfort from the incredible legacy left behind by Kobe and Gianna.

We know they won't soon forget their loved ones. We hope they know that we won't, either.

Jamie Orsini is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, military spouse, and a mom to two busy toddlers. In her spare time, Jamie volunteers with the Solar System Ambassador program with NASA/JPL and reads anything she can get her hands on. She’s currently working on her first novel.

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