On Wednesday, Vanessa Bryant made her Instagram account public, the first sign of social media activity she’s shown since losing her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in a tragic helicopter crash Sunday morning.
The grieving mother’s newly public account contains poignant photographs and videos of Kobe and Gianna that have never been seen publicly before. For now, Vanessa has chosen not to allow comments on any of her posts. However, those same photos and videos are quickly gaining likes as friends and fans express their feelings, many leaving hearts in response. In the brief span of time since having made her Instagram account public, Vanessa’s follower count rose from 1.5 to 1.7 million, a number that is likely to increase.
Over a week ago, Vanessa’s Instagram feed featured a series of two pictures of Gianna playing basketball while Kobe coached his daughter. In the caption, she referred to their 13-year-old daughter as “mambacita,” which is a feminized version of Kobe’s NBA nickname of Black Mamba. Gianna was seen taking a shot in the first photo, joining the Mambas on the court — the AAU team that Kobe coached. The second picture in the series captures Kobe on the bench, Gianna pointing to something that looked like it could have been a play he’d drawn up for the team.
A video that Vanessa posted two weeks ago contained several highlights of Gianna on the court, and the attached caption noted that she was part of the class of 2024. Throughout the reel — which had already amassed over 864,000 views — Gianna showed off her “mambacita” skills as she dribbled up and down the court, and made several shots, while playing as part of the team she felt so close to.
In another post dated December 30, 2019, a sweet moment between Kobe and Gianna was offered up as they sat courtside during a Lakers game. Both dad and daughter were all smiles in the picture, and Kobe wore a bright orange hoodie that complemented Gianna’s bright yellow pants. That photograph perfectly captured the father-daughter moment, both of them smiling while enjoying the sport that they both loved.
Vanessa’s account also hosted a series of two images, as well as a video from the same game. She noted that in the first one, Gianna was her twin — but also that in the last picture, Gianna looked more like her dad. Sandwiched in the middle was a video of Kobe hugging fellow Lakers icon LeBron James, with James leaning over to say something to Gianna during the brief encounter.
The December Lakers game wasn’t the only time Vanessa noticed Gianna and Kobe twinning. In November of last year, both father and daughter sat courtside during a game, and Vanessa shared a video of them walking off the court together, noting that Kobe and Gianna shared the same walk in the clip.
In another video post from early January, Gianna was seen taking to the court with the Mambas, and fans nearby cheered for her when she netted a basket. Vanessa tagged the share with the hashtag #basketballmom, showing pride in her daughter.
Five weeks ago, Vanessa shared a post featuring a video that Gianna and some of her Mamba teammates made, one showing them being silly and having fun together. Gianna’s mother seemed amused, noting that the #happygirls were being #goofballs that day.
A December series of videos detailed Gianna showing up for basketball practice after a Christmas show. Gianna wore a black dress and heels — which Vanessa noted belonged to her — as she shot baskets and showed off her dribbling skills. In a picture attached to the same share, the Mambas huddled around coach Kobe.
A more romantic video saw Vanessa — decked out in full New Year’s Eve regalia — sharing a kiss with Kobe as the clock struck midnight to welcome 2020. The couple looked incredibly happy as confetti rained down around them.
Vanessa gave social media users a glimpse into the lives of her family members by making her Instagram account public, something many supporters and well-wishers the world over expect to precede a public statement from the family matriarch.