Vanessa Bryant paid tribute to her and Kobe Bryant's daughter, Gianna, through an emotional video on what would have been her 16th birthday.
Gianna passed away along with her father and seven others when their helicopter crashed into a California hillside on the morning of 26 January, 2020.
The teenager was just 13 years old at the time and would have celebrated her Sweet 16 yesterday, 1 May. Countless fans marked the day with heartfelt posts, while Vanessa worked with Nike to create a short video which honoured her daughter.
See it below:
It was never about what she got from basketball. It was always about what she gave back. Gigi gave inspiration to her teammates, her mentors, and the next generation. #PlayGigisWay #mambamambacitasports pic.twitter.com/u7R3EnknqP— Nike (@Nike) May 1, 2022
The video is modelled after Kobe's own Oscar-winning animated film titled Dear Basketball, and shows sketches of Gianna playing the sport and laughing alongside her dad.
The scenes are narrated with a voiceover recorded by Vanessa, who addresses Gianna as she says: “From the first time you imagined winning a WNBA Championship, I knew one thing was real. You were special.
"You came from greatness, but it was never about what you inherited. It was about what you gave to others. When someone stands up for gender equality, I see you fighting alongside of them. And every time someone plays her hardest, I know that's you on the court."
Nike's video formed part of a special release in honour of Gianna’s birthday; the 'Mambacita Sweet 16' Kobe 6 shoes. The proceeds for the trainers will go towards the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation, which works to create a 'positive impact for underserved athletes and boys & girls in sports'.
In a statement announcing the release, Nike said the trainers honour 'the legacy that Kobe and Gianna 'Gigi' Bryant built'.
It added: "One that propelled all generations to continue their quest to be better, for themselves and for the game that unites us all. To the fans that have embodied the Mamba Mentality from the beginning and the young hoopers that have pushed Gigi's love for the game forward, this one’s for you."
Vanessa shared images of the shoes on Instagram on the run-up to Gianna's birthday, writing: "I’m so happy with the way these Mambacita shoes came out in honor of my daughter, Gigi."
As well as providing the voice-over for the video, the mother paid tribute to her daughter with a picture of them smiling together along with a caption which read: "I love you baby. Happy Birthday Mamacita." Other posts showed videos of Gianna and Kobe playing basketball.
Gianna's older sister, Natalia, also shared a photo and a message wishing her sister a happy birthday.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
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