Athletes and teams are coming out in force to pay tribute to Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant on his birthday. Bryant, who died in January, would have been 42 on Sunday.
Bryant’s wife Vanessa sent a lengthy message to her late husband Sunday. In it, Vanessa said she missed Kobe and daughter Gianna Bryant, who also died in January’s helicopter crash. Vanessa also thanked Kobe for everything.
Vanessa Bryant’s full message reads:
To my baby—
Happy birthday. 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 ass deep laugh. I miss teasing you, making you laugh 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. I think about everything thrown my way. Thank you for growing up with me and teaching me how to be strong. How to try and see the best in people but cutout the bs. Your thoughtful gestures and t he 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 broke inside. As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters days shine a little brighter. I’m not the strong one, they are. They’re strong and resilient. I’m sure you’re proud of them. They put a smile on my face everyday. I wish I could wake up from this horrible nightmare. I wish I could surprise our girls and welcome you and Gigi home to us. I’m mad I didn’t go first. I always wanted to go first so that I selfishly didn’t have to feel this heartache. You were supposed to miss me. Gigi was supposed to be here with her sisters. It should’ve been me. There’s so much I wish I could tell you and show you and Gigi. So many things you would both be happy to see and be apart of. So many milestones for our girls. So many things you would be proud of. I’m so thankful I have pieces of heaven here on earth to wake up for— thanks to YOU. Thank you for loving me enough to last several lifetimes. In every lifetime, I would choose YOU. 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 thoughtful princess so much! Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, Capri and I wish you a happy birthday my love. I love you for now, forever and for always.
A number of athletes — including Vince Carter, Sabrina Ionescu and LeBron James — also sent touching messages honoring Bryant on his birthday. Both the NBA and WNBA also sent out tributes.
Lakers also send tribute to Kobe Bryant
The Lakers tweeted out two tributes to Bryant. The first was a graphic that read “Happy Birthday.” The Lakers wrote “we miss you every day.”
The second was a video of Bryant’s career.
LeBron James shared the Lakers’ graphic, and other tributes to Bryant on James’ Instagram story.
Kendrick Lamar narrates Nike ad dedicated to Kobe Bryant
Nike also released a video focusing on Bryant. The company enlisted Kendrick Lamar to provide the voiceover for it.
Sabrina Ionescu shared that video on Instagram.
Other athletes send messages honoring Kobe Bryant
Many others sent messages honoring Bryant, including Vince Carter and Billie Jean King.
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