While speaking at her late husband’s memorial service on Monday, Vanessa Bryant revealed that Kobe Bryant had once gifted her the blue dress from the romantic 2004 film The Notebook, worn by Rachel McAdams in the film. The purchase of the iconic movie prop was just one of the many romantic gestures Kobe reportedly made for Vanessa — the woman he was married to for almost 20 years.
Vanessa tearfully spoke of her husband and of her daughter, Gianna, to those who gathered at The Staples Center on Monday. The location held special significance, as it was where Kobe made history as one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history.
The former model reflected on her relationships with Kobe and Gianna in a speech that revealed intimate details concerning her deep love for them both.
She mentioned several little-known facts about the basketball superstar, including that he loved romantic movies such as Steel Magnolias and The Notebook. Vanessa also recalled that her husband was a man with a “tender heart,” who enjoyed movie nights with his family of four girls, per NBC News.
She then revealed that Kobe had once surprised her with the blue dress from the film — as well as the titular notebook — as a gift for her.
“I asked why he chose that dress and he said because it’s the part when Allie comes back to Noah,” she recounted.
“We had hoped to grow old together, like the movie. We had a true love story,” Vanessa remarked to the crowd in attendance. “He was thoughtful and wrote the best love letters and cards.”
The Notebook tells the story of a young couple, Noah and Allie, who fall in love in the 1940s. They spend a wonderful summer together, but her family — and the socio-economic realities of the time — prevented them from being together.
Nicholas Sparks wrote the book the film was based on.
Vanessa and Kobe’s love story began when they were just teenagers. The Inquisitr previously reported that the couple met in November 1999, during the filming of the Snoop Dogg and Tha Eastsidaz music video “G’d up.”
At the time of their first meeting, Vanessa was a senior at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California. Kobe caused a sensation among Vanessa’s classmates when he sent her roses at school in an attempt to both impress her and shower her with love.
After six months of dating, Kobe proposed to Vanessa on her 18th birthday — May 5, 2000.
The couple’s famous and enduring romance was also detailed in a story relayed by basketball executive and family friend Rob Pelinka during the memorial service.
“One night on the phone, Kobe noticed there was a grand piano in the hotel suite he was staying in. He said it sat by a tall window under the moonlit sky. During one of our calls, he shared an idea with me. He said he hadn’t been sleeping much at night because he was missing V and the girls so much. While he was away, he wanted to live in his love for Vanessa so at night, under the moonlit sky, he vowed to teach himself, by ear, to play the first movement of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlit [sic] Sonata.’ When he told me this, I thought: there’s no way… By the end of the week, he had the entire piece mastered and he played it for me over the phone without a mistake… Kobe had mastered one of the greatest piano movements ever written as a symbol of one of the most beautiful loves the world has ever seen.”
The couple was married for 19 years prior to Kobe’s tragic death in a helicopter crash — alongside Gianna and seven others — on January 26, 2020.
Vanessa and Kobe welcomed four daughters during their nearly two-decade-long marriage. They share 17-year-old Natalia Diamante Bryant, 13-year-old Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, 3-year-old Bianka Bella Bryant, and 8-month-old Capri Kobe Bryant together.