In the sweet photo, which is now Vanessa’s profile picture on Instagram, Kobe is looking down and smiling at his daughter while she looks up at him. Vanessa hasn’t spoken publicly since the deaths of her husband and daughter were announced on Sunday.
Vanessa was married to the retired NBA legend for more than 18 years. The couple’s surviving children are Natalia, 17; Bianka, 3; and Capri, 8 months.
In November 2019, the two celebrated the first day they met, 20 years earlier. They marked the occasion with a trip to Disneyland to “celebrate old school style,” Kobe wrote in an Instagram post.
The photo was taken during the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto. Kobe warmed up at the game with Gianna, who wore an oversize Bryant jersey, as can be seen in that and other photos from the event below.
Other victims of the crash included Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and one of their two daughters, Alyssa.
Christina Mauser, the top assistant coach at Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy, also died, along with Sarah Chester; her daughter, Payton Chester; and Kobe’s private pilot, Ara Zobayan.
In a recently resurfaced podcast interview with Alex Rodriguez, Kobe said that he began traveling by helicopter as a way to spend more time with his daughters.
“Traffic started getting really, really bad,” he said on the Barstool Sports podcast, “The Corp with A-Rod and Big Cat,” in December 2018. “And I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play, because I was sitting in traffic.”
“I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time,” he added. “So that’s when I looked into helicopters, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes and that’s when it started.”
This story has been updated to include photos from the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.