Vanessa Bryant’s life changed forever on Jan. 26, 2020, when her husband and daughter tragically died in a helicopter accident that also claimed the lives of seven other people. But even though Kobe Bryant is gone, he will never be forgotten.
And on Friday, Vanessa Bryant took to social media to deliver a heartfelt message about her late husband on the three-year anniversary of his jersey retirement ceremony with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kobe Bryant had both of his jerseys retired after a legendary career in LA
Kobe Bryant became one of the most popular players in NBA history as the face of the league’s most iconic franchise. The Pennsylvania native developed into a dominant force thanks to a competitive drive that later became known as “The Mamba Mentality.” Of course, he had plenty of natural skills, too.
During his incredible NBA career, Bryant earned 18 All-Star selections and one MVP award. Although he rightfully earned a reputation as an elite scorer, he also dominated on the other end of the floor. The lifelong Laker earned nine NBA All-Defensive First Team selections, including six straight from 2006-2011.
More importantly, Bryant helped the Lakers win five championships. He and Shaquille O’Neal formed perhaps the most dominant duo in league history during the early part of the millennium. Later in his career, the two-time NBA Finals MVP teamed up with Pau Gasol to win two more rings.
But after 20 years, five title, several injuries, and plenty of unforgettable moments, Bryant called it a career after the 2015-16 season.
On Dec. 19, 2017, the Lakers honored the franchise legend by retiring his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys in a ceremony that included high praise from Magic Johnson and team president Jeanie Buss.
The Lakers legend tragically died earlier this year
After retiring, Kobe Bryant remained closely involved with the game of basketball. He served as a mentor to Jayson Tatum, who idolized the Black Mamba growing up. He also played a major role in the advancement of women’s basketball, an easy decision for a father with a daughter who many viewed as a future WNBA star.
However, neither Kobe nor his daughter, Gianna, got a chance to watch that dream come true. Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic took over the news cycle, tragedy struck when Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, along with seven other people, died in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, Calif.
Athletes, celebrities, and fans immediately took to social media to pay tribute to the fallen NBA star and his family. Bryant’s death rocked not only the basketball community but the world as a whole. He touched the lives of so many fans across the globe and certainly made an incredible impact off the court, particularly after retiring.
In fact, one of his former teammates spoke about a conversation he had with Kobe shortly before his tragic death.
“I actually got a chance to thank for him for what he meant for my life,” Tarik Black told Matt Tait of KU Sports. “And he just kept saying, ‘I’m so proud of you.’ So it rocked me to my core when I heard about his passing.”
Vanessa Bryant sends a heartfelt message on the anniversary of her late husband’s jersey retirement
As the one-year anniversary of his death draws closer, another Kobe Bryant-related anniversary recently passed. Friday marked three years since the Lakers officially ensured no one will ever wear No. 8 or No. 24 again.
For Vanessa Bryant, this represented the first time she could not relive that historic day with her husband. Naturally, that led her to post a heartfelt message on Instagram that included a video clip from Kobe’s jersey retirement ceremony.
“No one like you @kobebryant,” she wrote before calling him “irreplaceable.”
She ended the caption with,”20 years~King of LA” followed by purple and gold heart emojis.
Ultimately, her post only reinforces just how incredible Kobe Bryant’s career and life truly were. He never wore another uniform other than Lakers purple and gold. He became one of the greatest at his profession and then spent his retirement being the best father and family man he could.
A little over a month from now, she will have to face another anniversary that won’t bring about such fond memories.
But even though Kobe Bryant passed away, his legacy will live on forever.