Vanessa Bryant took to social media to honor her daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, late Saturday night. The illustration imagined her daughter as a player on the Los Angeles Lakers, wearing her father’s number, 24.
“Seeing my babygirl smile and happy again with a basketball 🏀 under her arm, wrapped in 💜💛love just warmed my heart,” Bryant wrote. “Thank you for this. @_vivalareina thank you!! My Gigi.❤️ #Mambacita”
She tagged the artist, Reina Koyano, who first posted the illustration four days ago to her own account with the caption, “Mambacita. #RIP.” Koyano has also made the drawing available to others as a free download.
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Gigi and her father, Kobe Bryant, were killed with seven others when their helicopter crashed in the hills of Calabasas, California on January 26.
On Friday, Vanessa shared a photo of the courtside tribute to her husband and daughter at the Lakers’ first game back since the tragic accident.
Two seats were left vacant courtside and adorned with bouquets of red roses and two jerseys: a No. 2 black Mamba jersey for Gianna and a No. 24 Laker jersey for Kobe.
Bryant and her three other daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months, were not present for the special pregame ceremony.
Vanessa broke her silence for the first time since the tragic crash on Wednesday to thank fans for their thoughts and prayers.
There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now,” she wrote in the caption of her post. “I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever.”
She added, “I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way.”