Vanessa Bryant's Throwback Photo With Kobe Will Break Your Heart All Over Again

Vanessa Bryant has continuously kept the legacy of late husband Kobe Bryant alive following his and daughter Gianna "Gigi" Bryant's untimely January 2020 deaths. In February 2021, Vanessa announced via Instagram that Kobe's foundation, formerly the Mamba Sports Foundation, would be renamed the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. As Vanessa touchingly explained, "There is no #24 without #2," restating their mission statement as empowering youth athletes "in a world they left us all to help shape."

Vanessa has also been candid about her vulnerability in grabbling with Kobe's death. In a particularly heart-wrenching Instagram video from January, the mother of three can be seen shedding tears while lying down with her dog, Crucio. The Labrador, Vanessa wrote, "always tries to lick my tears." Although Vanessa did not explicitly state the cause of her then-sadness, it's hard to imagine Kobe's demise was far from her mind.

For her and her late husband's 21st anniversary, however, Vanessa chose to reflect upon a happier time on Instagram.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant first bonded at Disneyland

Commemorating what would have been their 21st wedding anniversary, Vanessa Bryant posted a sunny Instagram photo of her receiving a piggyback ride from Kobe Bryant. "I love you forever, baby. Happy Anniversary @kobebryant #21," Vanessa wrote. Her comments section saw an outpouring of love and support, with one fan gushing, "A LO[V]E made in Heaven ! You were and are The couple of our Lifetime." 

The couple first met on the 1999 set of Tha Eastsidaz's "G'd Up" music video during Kobe's brief career as a rapper, per the Los Angeles Times. Although Vanessa was still in high school, the pair quickly got engaged when Vanessa turned 18, tying the knot in April 2001, per E! News. "I just knew that she was the one," Kobe said of their whirlwind courtship in an interview Vanessa reposted in April 2020. In an interview from the 2015 documentary "Kobe Bryant's Muse," per 9Honey, the NBA legend also reflected upon their instantaneous bond, sharing, "We literally did everything together. Everything together. And I thought I was a big dork because I loved Disneyland." With their first date being a Disneyland trip, Kobe discovered Vanessa was a Disney "dork" as well. "We used to hang out as Disneyland, we used to go to Magic Mountain, she became my best friend," the basketball player sweetly shared.