Happy birthday to the one and only Black Mamba!

The late NBA legend would’ve turned 44 on August 23rd. And fans celebrated by sharing stories and pictures and posting well wishes to his family on social media. But his biggest fan, his wife Vanessa Bryant, is choosing to celebrate his special day in her own way.

Kobe and Gigi Bryant Killed in Helicopter Crash

On January 26, 2020, NBA athlete Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant boarded a helicopter to attend a youth basketball game in Thousand Oaks, California. Shortly afterward, the helicopter crashed into the hills below, leaving nine dead, including Kobe and Gigi Bryant.

When the news broke, the world seemed to stand still. And fans mourned with Vanessa and her daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. But as the superstar athlete would have it, tears into celebration. And every year, the Bryant family and fans honor Kobe and his daughter on his birthday. 

How Vanessa Bryant Celebrated His Special Day

In an interview with People, Vanessa talks about how she carries on without her husband and daughter, saying that they motivate her to keep going. “They inspire me to try harder and be better every day. Their love is unconditional and they motivate me in so many different ways.”

Kobe Bryant is the man, the myth, and the legend. This is evidenced not only by the number of feats he accomplished but also by the number of lives he touched. So in honor of his birthday, fans celebrated the Black Mamba along with his family. Here’s how Vanessa Bryant celebrated Kobe Bryant’s birthday this year:

Vanessa Bryant posted a message to her late husband

Vanessa Bryant took to social media to post a heartwarming picture of her and her husband when they were younger. The year was 2009, and the Los Angeles Lakers had just won the NBA Championships. Fittingly, the “Black Mamba” wore an NBA Championships jersey as he posed with his smiling wife.

Vanessa Bryant posted the picture with the caption addressed to the NBA legend. It reads, “Happy birthday, baby! I love you and miss you so much! #44❤️” 

Underneath the caption, the comments are flooded with heart emojis. Not to mention, there are quite a few comments from celebrities, including Ciara, Kerry Washington, and Candace Parker.

She designed a limited edition sweatshirt

Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation is a charity organization that was created in honor of the late Kobe and Gianna Bryant. At Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, all of the proceeds from every purchase go towards serving underprivileged athletes and children in sports.

In honor of his 44th birthday, the foundation dropped their exclusive “Reflective Logo Sweatshirt,” a customer favorite. What makes the sweatshirt so special is that its design was created by Vanessa Bryant, herself. But if you want to purchase one for yourself, you have to act fast. The sweatshirt is only available for a limited time only.

She continues fighting

A gavel hitting block in a courtroom
Photo Credit: EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA via Pexels

Following the deadly helicopter crash that killed the late Kobe and Gianna Bryant, pictures of the incident began circulating online. Shortly after discovering this, Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County due to allegations that emergency personnel distributed the pictures.

Recently Vanessa Bryant took the stand in court to testify about how the incident made her feel. According to People, she explains, “I broke down and cried, and I just wanted to run down the block and scream,” She says. “I can’t escape my body. I can’t escape what I feel.”

And even though the case is unsettled at this time, one thing is for certain — Vanessa Bryant is determined to fight for her husband, daughter, and the other seven people who passed away.

She enjoyed the love

Losing a loved one is not easy. For many people, grieving can cause feelings of abandonment and isolation. So, because of this, it’s important to surround yourself with loved ones who can remind you that you’re not alone.

As with anyone else, the same applies to Vanessa Bryant and her family. And fortunately, as the wife of an NBA superstar, she has no problem finding people to honor his legacy with her.

Kobe Bryant was beloved by men and women from around the world. A number of celebrities and fans commented underneath her Instagram post, including supermodel Naomi Campbell, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, and comedian Loni Love.