Vanessa Bryant Posts Emotional Tribute to Kobe Bryant on What Would Have Been His 42nd Birthday

Kobe Bryant would have turned 42 years old on Sunday, Aug. 23.

In honor of the occasion, fans, friends, and family members took to social media to remember the legendary NBA star, who died in a tragic helicopter crash on Jan. 26 alongside his daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant and seven others.

Among those who paid tribute to the fallen basketball player was Vanessa Bryant, posting an emotional tribute to her late husband on her Instagram page. Ahead, get a recap on the crash that claimed the life of Bryant and what Vanessa said on his birthday.

Vanessa Laine Bryant and Kobe Bryant
Vanessa Laine Bryant and Kobe Bryant at an event in November 2018 | Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Baby2Baby

Looking back at the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant

On the day of the crash, Bryant had been flying from his home in Orange County to his sports academy in Thousand Oaks, California to attend a basketball game where Gianna was expected to play. Shortly after the helicopter took off, it struck a hillside and caught fire, killing all passengers on board, including the pilot.

The cause of the crash has yet to be determined, but engine failure has been ruled out. It is suspected that weather could have contributed to the crash, as the helicopter had been traveling in foggy conditions at the time of the collision. But law enforcement sources have said that it might take at least up to a year to get the final findings from the investigation.

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My Gigi

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Vanessa Bryant posted a birthday tribute to Kobe Bryant

Vanessa posted a tribute to Bryant on the morning of Aug. 23, sharing a throwback photo showing her dressed in a purple gown and leaning into Bryant as he rested his head on hers and held her hand.

“To my baby ~ Happy Birthday,” she began. “I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain. I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU! I wish I could make you your fav food or a birthday cake with my Gigi. I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud a** deep laugh. I miss teasing you, making you laughing and bursting your bubble. I miss you sitting on my lap like my big baby that you are. I think about your tenderness and patience all the time.”

She went on, “Thank you for growing up with me and teaching me how to be strong. How to try to see the best in people but cutout the bs. Your thoughtful gestures and the amazing way you made us all feel is extremely missed. I picture your smile and wide, big, welcoming hugs daily. God I miss you both so much. Our lives feel so empty without you and Gigi. I’ve been completely broken inside.”

She continued, saying she’s “mad” she didn’t go first and that he and Gianna should be with their family. But she noted that she has been trying to stay positive and keep moving forward. Vanesssa closed by thanking Bryant for choosing her and loving her throughout his lifetime.

“In every lifetime I would choose YOU,” she wrote. “Thank you for showing me what real love is. Thank YOU for everything. I know my Gigi is celebrating you like she always has on our special days. I miss my princess so much! Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, Capri and I wish you a happy birthday my love. I love you now, forever and for always. ❤️ #amoreternno 🎂42.”

RELATED: Natalia Bryant Shares Rare Social Media Post About Gigi In Honor of Her Birthday

Vanessa Bryant’s relationship with Kobe Bryant dates back decades

Vanessa and Bryant had been together for years before his death. They met in 1999 when Vanessa was still in high school and eventually began dating. The pair later got engaged, married in 2001, and went on to have four daughters: Natalia, 17, Gianna, 13, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 1.

In the months since Bryant’s death, Vanessa has posted several remembrances to Bryant on her Instagram, including on their 19th wedding anniversary in April. She has also continued his legacy by picking up his work and promoting projects he was working on at the time of his death, most recently announcing the release of his first young adult book, Geese Are Never Swans in July. The book is available for order now.