Vanessa Bryant celebrated her oldest daughter, Natalia, turning 18 years old by posting a sweet note via Instagram.
Bryant, the widow of the late Kobe Bryant, wrote about how Natalia has stepped in to help with her little sisters, Bianca and Capri, after the death of her father and younger sister, Gianna.
“Dear Natalia, Happy Birthday!” Bryant wrote. “Mommy and Daddy are so proud of the young lady that you are. You have displayed so much strength and grace throughout the most difficult year of our lives. Thank you for stepping in to help me with your little sisters. You’re such an incredible big sister and a beautiful role model to so many people. Thank you for being kind, polite and gracious in everything that you do. You have no idea how happy and proud mommy and daddy are that you’re our daughter. We love you always and forever, forever and always. Happy 18th birthday to our first born, Natalia, our principessa! Love always, Mommy, Daddy, Gigi, BB and Koko”
The celebration comes a week before the one year anniversary of the plane crash that killed all nine members on board, including Kobe and Gianna. They were on their way to a basketball game when the helicopter crashed.
Hoping to help others who have experienced loss amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Vanessa revealed via her Instagram Stories on January 15th how hard the past year has been. “One day you’re in the moment laughing and the next day you don’t feel like being alive. I want to say this for people struggling with grief and loss. Find your reason to live. I know it’s hard. I look at my daughters and I try to push through that feeling for them. Death is guaranteed but living the rest of the day isn’t. Find your reason.”
Bryant shared a number of photos, including a gorgeous black and white headshot of the teen, and a family shot of Kobe, Vanessa and Natalia, sitting on the Lakers court floor, both completely enveloped in the Lakers icon’s arms.
“We love you so much! Happy birthday Natalia!!!! 😘😘😘😘 Our first born @nataliabryant.”