A bittersweet moment. Vanessa Bryant congratulated the Los Angeles Lakers on winning the 2020 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat nearly nine months after the tragic deaths of her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their daughter Gianna.
“Congratulations Uncle P!” the former model, 38, wrote on her Instagram Story on Sunday, October 11, alongside a throwback photo of Kobe and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka. “Congratulations @lakers Kobe was right, RP! ‘Stay the course- blockout the noise.’ @kobebryant Wish Kobe and Gigi were here to see this.”
Vanessa also shared an old photo of Kobe and Gianna wearing Lakers gear on her Instagram feed, writing, “National FatherDaughter day. #GirlDad #DaddysGirl #Mamba #Mambacita #2 #8 #24 Congratulations @Lakers.”
The Lakers defeated the Heat in Game 6 on Sunday with a score of 106-93 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida. LeBron James led the L.A. team with 28 points and 10 assists, earning the forward, 35, his fourth NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. It was the Lakers’ 17th time winning the championship series, tying the Boston Celtics’ record. They last won in 2010 against the Boston Celtics.
The Lakers had dedicated the 2019-20 season to Kobe, who died at age 41 in a helicopter crash in January alongside Gianna, 13, and seven others: pilot Ara Zobayan, 50; basketball coach Christina Mauser, 38; Gianna’s teammates Alyssa Altobelli, 14, and Payton Chester, 13; Alyssa’s parents, John Altobelli, 56, and Keri Altobelli, 46; and Payton’s mother, Sarah Chester, 45. The team also wore Black Mamba uniforms designed by Kobe in Game 5.
Kobe joined the Lakers in 1996 after graduating high school and went on to play his entire 20-year career with the team. He retired in 2016 with five championship wins and two NBA Finals MVP Awards.
The Oscar winner and Gianna were laid to rest at a private ceremony in Corona Del Mar, California, in February. He also shared daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 15 months, with Vanessa.
“I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain,” Vanessa wrote via Instagram in August on what would have been Kobe’s 42nd birthday. “I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU! I wish I could make you your fav food or a birthday cake with my Gigi. I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud ass deep laugh. I miss teasing you, making you laugh and bursting your bubble. I miss you sitting on my lap like my big baby that you are. … I wish I could wake up from this horrible nightmare.”