Natalia Bryant Grew Up To Be Gorgeous And Is Carving Out Her Own Path

In January 2020, when Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash, he left behind his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and three daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri Bryant. With Bianka and Capri being only 4 and 7 months at the time, one could assume that they were unable to grasp the enormity of the tragedy. Natalia, on the other hand, was 17 when her dad died. Despite the pain of losing her father, she keeps him alive in her heart. In an Instagram tribute celebrating Kobe's first posthumous birthday in August 2020, she wrote, "Happy Birthday to the best movie buddy I could have ever asked for. I will always remember our late-night drives to the movie theater with the windows rolled down and listening to our favorite songs. I love you forever and always." 

Similarly, through the years, Natalia has continued to pay tribute to her little sister Gianna Bryant who was killed alongside Kobe in the helicopter crash, at the age of 13. In an Instagram post shared just four months after her sister's death, she wrote, "Happy 14th Birthday Gigi! I miss your smile every day but I know you're always smiling down on us from heaven with daddy. I LOVE YOU."

Through her grief, however, young Natalia has continued to forge through life with a determination to rise above the pain. In June 2021, she became a high school graduate, much to the pride of her mother Vanessa. "Yay! Congratulations Natalia!," the mom of four wrote alongside a photo of Natalia in a graduation gown, on Instagram. Beyond finishing high school, here is a look into her evolution through the years.

Natalia Bryant's birth was the start of something new ‌

In 2003, two years after getting married, Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant welcomed their first child, Natalia Bryant. Before Natalia's birth, Kobe was said to be estranged from his parents Pam and Joe Bryant who reportedly opposed his relationship with Vanessa. "It was no secret that there was a distance between Vanessa and his folks after a series of bust-ups when they were dating, including them missing his wedding," a source told The Sun. However, the outlet reported that Pam and Joe allegedly put their grievances aside for reconciliation with Kobe after Natalia's arrival.

Of course, Natalia's arrival also marked the start of Kobe and Vanessa's parenting journey. Expectedly, the NBA star couldn't have been more excited about his new role as a dad. "She looks just like Vanessa, thank God. She has a head full of hair just like her momma," Kobe gushed to AP shortly after Natalia's birth (via Midland Daily News). Of course, Kobe's excitement about fatherhood remained until the end, eventually earning him the "MVP of girl dads" title. "Guys keep teasing me. My friends say, 'It takes a real man to make a boy.' I'm like, 'Dude, it takes a king to make a princess ... get in line.," he quipped in a 2017 interview with Extra

Natalia Bryant's parents gave her a normal childhood

When you are born the first daughter of a basketball and sports legend, your life in the spotlight is pretty much set in stone. However, this was not what Kobe and Vanessa Bryant wanted for their kids. "Growing up, my parents made [life] as normal as possible. Thank God they did. It's not, 'Oh she's Natalia Bryant, she's Kobe Bryant's daughter'. A lot of times they saw me as 'She's just Nani,'" Natalia explained in an interview with Teen Vogue.

Of the many ways her childhood was normal, Natalia's favorite was having the typical father-daughter bond with Kobe. While she might have gotten her mother's face, Natalia and Kobe were similar in a lot of ways — including their shared love for movies. Once in 2019, after seeing " Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker" in the theatre, Natalia asked to rewatch the entire franchise that night with Kobe. He agreed. "He was just like the best girl dad ever. He was just letting me play my playlist and jam out to Taylor Swift the whole ride back, and talk about 'Star Wars' too. It was so much fun," she recounted to Teen Vogue. 

Per Extra, during her speech at the unveiling of Kobe's handprints at the TCL Chinese Theater, Natalia revealed that the connection she shared with her father inspired her to want to create similar cinematic bonding experiences for other fathers and daughters. "He is the reason I'm pursuing film in college," she explained.

She caught the athletism bug in high school

In addition to their love for movies, Kobe and Natalia Bryant also bonded over their interest in sports. In her interview with Teen Vogue, Natalia recounted developing an interest in volleyball at the age of nine after her mother Vanessa Bryant took her to watch a beach volleyball game at the 2012 London Olympics. "I was watching and [my mom] was like, 'Nani, you're going to love this sport. You're going to love volleyball. I'm calling it right now,'" she explained. As Vanessa suspected, Natalie fell in love with the sport and went on to become captain of Sage Hill High School's volleyball. In true Bryant style, Natalia graduated from the team as a record holder for most kills in a season, according to The Blast. The move is essentially volleyball's version of a slam dunk.

Unsurprisingly, she hoped to play college volleyball someday, preferably with the University of Southern California, a team she and Kobe frequently watched play. "I played club volleyball with the intention of becoming a D1 athlete," she told Teen Vogue. Sadly, after her father and sister's tragic death, Natalia decided it was time to drop the game. "I quit volleyball after the accident because I was so ... a lot was going on at that time. I knew I didn't ... love volleyball as much as they love basketball. I'm okay with that," she said of her decision. "... I just wanted to take a break from it."

She started her modeling career at 18

Natalia Bryant might have given up playing volleyball, but she has continued to pursue her other passions — like modeling. In February 2021, a then-18-year-old Natalia announced she had signed with IMG Models, the agency representing models like Gigi Hadid, Hailey Beiber, and Chanel Iman. "I have always been interested in fashion since a very young age," she said in a statement shared on the agency's Instagram. "I have a love for the industry, and ever since I can remember, I wanted to model. There is a lot to learn, but I feel this is a great opportunity for me to learn and express myself creatively." Understandably, Natalia's decision to pursue her interest in modeling made Vanessa a proud mom.  "Daddy would be so happy that you're pursuing your modeling career now that you're 18," Vanessa captioned an Instagram post celebrating her daughter. "You're beautiful inside and out. We love you."

In her interview with Teen Vogue, Natalia opened up about her developing an interest in modeling after seeing a Chanel runway show on screen during a shopping trip to New York's Bergdorf Goodman store with her mom. "I want to do that," she recounted telling Vanessa who gave her conditions for pursuing such dreams. "For my mom, it was really important for me to go through high school and get my education. Especially complete college too." With high school now behind her, Natalia Bryant is seemingly set to take the modeling industry by storm.

Natalia is a University of Southern California student

Though neither Kobe Bryant nor Vanessa Bryant went to college, the couple has always been keen on allowing their kids to fully experience academic life. In March 2021, Vanessa shared a video of Natalia celebrating her acceptance into the University of Southern California. "Your hard work and dedication was so worth it. You pushed through the most excruciating pain imaginable and you succeeded," the proud mom wrote on Instagram. "I wish Daddy and Gigi were physically here to celebrate but I know they're here in spirit. We love you so much!" 

That same month, Natalia shared an adorable photo of herself wearing USC merchandise. "See you soon [USC] Fight on!" she wrote in the caption. At the University of Southern California, Natalia majors in filmmaking — a decision she has since revealed was inspired by her late father's love for storytelling. As a recap, Kobe took home the Best Animated Short Film Oscar in 2018 for his work on "Dear Basketball" — and Natalia hopes to one day replicate this success. 

In the meantime, Natalia is determined to make the most of her college years. So far, she seems to be doing a good job. "I'm loving everything," she gushed to ET of her college experience. "I feel like this whole year flew by so fast. It was everything I expected and honestly more." Remarkably, Natalia shares a room with "Euphoria" star, Storm Reid, another young public figure. "I'm loving being able to room with each other," she said of the actor.

She has had many memorable fashion moments

Natalia Bryant is a lot of things — daughter, sister, film student, and model. Add an emerging fashion icon and the list might just be complete! In the years that have passed since Kobe Bryant's death, Natalia has graced several red-carpet events, and let's just put it out there that she always slays. In September 2021, Natalia made her Met Gala debut wearing a Connor Ives-designed dress which according to mom Vanessa Bryant's Instagram, was picked out by the Vogue team and Anna Wintour. The multicolored '60s-inspired dress stood out for its balloon-shaped silhouette and long train. To complete the look, Natalia opted for soft glam makeup and pink platform heels. "I definitely wanted to do something really fun and young. I'm so glad Anna Wintour allowed me to wear this exhibit dress. This just feels like a dream," she gushed to ET

But this was only the beginning of Natalia's remarkable fashion moments. In December 2022, the University of Southern California student attended the premiere of "Babylon" in an asymmetrical brown dress accessorized with strappy heels and the brightest of smiles. Speaking to E! News, Natalia admitted she is embracing a newfound personal aesthetic as she grows older. "I'm really stepping into my own style," she explained. "Growing up, I've definitely been influenced by my friends or family members. It's been an interesting experience being able to watch my own style evolve over the years."

Natalia Bryant scored an internship with Beyonce

Oh come all ye Beyhives, Natalia Bryant might have just landed the coolest job ever. In May 2023, shortly after kicking off her highly anticipated Renaissance World Tour, Beyoncé released a list, showing the people who worked with her to make the tour a success. In a pleasantly surprising twist of events, Natalia was credited as an intern. According to People, Natalia works with Parkwood Entertainment, Beyoncé's management and production company founded in 2010. However, her gig with the company is not the first time Natalia has worked with the musical icon. In November 2021, the upcoming model also featured in a campaign for Beyoncé's athleisure clothing line. "I'm so excited to be a part of the new Ivy Park campaign!" Natalia captioned an Instagram video from the campaign. "Love you so much Auntie BB."

Natalia's relationship with Beyonce comes as no surprise given that the singer was a longtime close friend of Kobe and Vanessa Bryant. "I will continue to diligently pray for your Queens. You are deeply missed beloved," the "Single Ladies" singer wrote in an Instagram tribute following Kobe's tragic death in January 2020. As many would recall, Beyonce also opened Kobe's memorial service with a powerful medley of "Halo" and "XO," a track she claimed was one of his favorites per Metro.

She's keeping her father's memory alive

Despite being faced with unthinkable tragedy at an early age, Natalia Bryant is determined to live through the pain and keep her father's memory alive. At the 2023 unveiling of Kobe's handprints at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Natalia delivered a speech where she spoke about his dedication to fatherhood and basketball. "Being his daughter is one of the greatest joys of my life, and I hope to continue to embody and cherish the many lessons he has taught me," she said at the event, per Extra.

While reliving memories with her famous dad is not always easy, the 20-year-old would have it no other way. "I love talking about my dad. It's bittersweet, but I enjoy talking about him more than it's sad for me," she admitted with Teen Vogue. And as for her little sisters, six-year-old Bianka Bella and Capri Kobe might struggle to remember their dad, due to their incredibly young age when he died — Natalia recognizes part of that responsibility now falls on her.  "[For] my little sisters [we're] trying to keep that memory for them. And also just trying to remember to live out every day the way they would," she added.

Beyond the memories she keeps alive in her mind, Natalia physically also carries a sentimental reminder of her late father with her wherever she goes. In her Vogue Beauty Secrets video, the upcoming model revealed a necklace with a pendant spelling "Slim" a childhood nickname that Kobe would always use for her.