In March 2021, Vanessa Bryant revealed daughter Natalia got accepted to the University of Southern California. And five months later, Vanessa shared a heart melting snap with her children as she dropp-ed her eldest off at USC for her first year of college. Vanessa, 39, wrote: ‘Today was rough. This was before the tears came down. Missing [peace sign] forever. I love you @NataliaBryant BE EPIC and FIGHT ON.’
Vanessa looked beautiful in the photo while rocking a leopard print sweater with her long brunette tre!ses loose around her. Natalia, 18, posed behind her mom rocking a grin from ear to ear with her little sisters Bianka, four, and Capri, two, smiling as well. Vanessa and her family reside in Newport Beach, located in Orange County, California; USC is located in downtown Los Angeles, one hour away from the Bryant family home.
Natalia’s first day of college and moving to LA proved to be an emotional moment for Vanessa, as she revealed she was teary eyed after the snap.
In March, Vanessa revealed that Natalia got accept to USC, and even shared the sweet moment her daughter found out she got in. The video featured Natalia ro!king a gray USC sweater and red leggings as she jumped up and down and gi*dily said: ‘I got in! I got in! I got in!’ Vanessa wrote a touching caption with the video: ‘Tears of joy. I’m SO happy for you Nani! I know daddy is so PROUD OF YOU. I am so PROUD OF YOU!!’ Vanessa began.
‘Your ha*d work and dedication was so worth it. You pushed through the most excruciating pain imaginable and you succeeded,’ she added.
‘I wish Daddy and Gigi were physically here to celebrate but I know they’re here in spirit. We love you so much!’ she concluded, with a heart emoji. Natalia shared her mother’s post on her own Instagram story, adding, ‘I love you @vanessabryant’ with a yellow heart. Vanessa also shared another video on Instagram showcasing more of their celebration, with the mother presenting a treasure trove of USC gear for her daughter.
‘Congratulations Nani Banani!!!!!! If you wouldn’t have been accepted I would’ve had to have stabbed these balloons in the guest room and have thrown all this away. Thank goodness you got in. I had these shoes custom made for @nataliabryant. Daddy and Gigi are ALWAYS here. Forever and always Principessa,’ she said.
The video showed Natalia reacting to all the gear, particularly the shoes, custom-made Nike Kobe IV’s in the USC Trojans maroon and gold colors. ‘I ordered those in September. It took three months to make,’ Vanessa said as Natalia pi*ked up the ki*ks in disbelief. The first day of college comes over a year and a half since Natalia trag-ically lost her dad, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and her sister Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant.
Kobe and Gigi died January 26, 2020 in a helicopter cra!h; he was 41 and she was 13. Kobe d*ed on Sunday, January 26, 2020 after his helicopter c!ash-ed on a hillside in Calabasas, California alongside his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others: John Altobelli, 56, Keri Altobelli, 46, Alyssa Altobelli, 14, Payton Chester, 13, Sarah Chester, 45, Christina Mauser, 38, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.
They were flying from Orange County to the Mamba Sports Academy, which he founded, in Thousand Oaks, California. He was set to coach his daughter in the Mamba Cup Tournament Series. Gigi was a rising star in women’s basketball and played on the amateur girls’ team coached by her father at his Mamba Academy. Kobe trademarked the name ‘Mambacita’ sho*tly before they di!d.
Fourteen months after their passing, Vanessa opened up about how she has cop-ed with the loss by fo!using on ‘finding the light in darkness,’ she said in the People cover story.
‘Lying in bed cry-ing isn’t going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again. But getting out of bed and pu!hing forward is going to make the day better for my girls and for me. So that’s what I do.’
‘My girls help me smile through the p!in,’ Vanessa revealed to the magazine. Vanessa said some days are harder than others, with the pa!n bringing her to her knees: ‘I can’t say that I’m stro*g every day. I can’t say that there aren’t days when I feel like I can’t surv-ive to the next.’ For the cover, Vanessa wore a Lakers varsity jacket with Kobe’s numbers – 24 and 8 – on each sleeve.
Vanessa said: ‘The p**n is unimaginable [but] you just have to get up and p!sh forward.’ Adding: ‘I guess the best way to describe it is that Kobe and Gigi motivated me to keep going. They inspire me to try ha!d and be better every day. Their love is unconditional and they motivate me in so many ways.’
She said in the end, all she wants is ‘to make Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka and Capri proud.’ Kobe and Vanessa met in November 1999 when he was 21 and she was 17 and working as a background dancer on the music video G’d Up by The Eastsidaz. They soon began dating got got engaged six months later in May 2000, and they tied the knot on April 18, 2001 in Dana Point, California.
Kobe, who is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, played his entire NBA career for the Los Angeles Lakers; the athlete was drafted out of high school and made his professional debut in 1996.
He began his career with the Number 8 jersey, which was a nod the number he had as a young child playing basketball while his dad Joe Bryant played ball in Italy. It was also partly for the jersey he wore to the youth training camp Adidas ABCD camp. Kobe wore no. 143, which added up equals 8. For the start of the 2006-2007 season, Kobe changed his number to 24, which was his number at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. He kept that number the second half of his career.
The athlete also opted to get the number after Shaquille was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004. Kobe had told ESPN in 2017 that getting his new number (2) was ‘kind of a clean slate. I started new. Just start completely fresh, focus on the number that meant a lot to me.’ The NBA MVP had added: ‘When I first came in at 8, is really trying to “plant your flag” sort of thing.” I got to prove that I belong here in this league. I’ve got to prove that I’m one of the best in this league. You’re going after them. It’s nonstop energy and agg*essiven-ess and s!uff.’
Kobe said the 24 was ‘growth from that.’ He told the outlet: ‘Physical attributes aren’t there the way they used to be, but the maturity level is greater. Marriage, kids. Start having a broader perspective being one of the older guys on the team now, as opposed to being the youngest. Things evolve. It’s not to say one is better than the other or one’s a better way to be. It’s just growth.’
ESPN noted that the two jersey numbers serve as chapters to his career with the him scoring almost the same amount of points in each. As number 8, he scored 16,777 points and as number 24, he scored 16, 866 points. He went on to win five NBA Championships with the Lakers over his 20-year career; he played his last game on April 13, 2016 before his retirement. His jerseys 8 and 24 were both retired by the Lakers in 2017.