When Natalia Bryant went back to school at the University of Southern California this week, she received the most special welcome back present from her mom, Vanessa Bryant. The 41-year-old honored her late husband, Kobe Bryant, by continuing his special first-day-of-school tradition for his daughter, and the gesture is so sweet it’ll make you sob.
Natalia shared a photo to her Instagram Story Monday night of a colorful bouquet of roses, per PEOPLE. The attached card read, “Happy first day of school! Love you always, Daddy.” Natalia added a caption to the post, writing, “first day of school 💐always @kobebryant ❤️.”
She also thanked her mom for carrying out the tradition. “Thank you mommy❤️ @vanessabryant,” Natalia wrote.
What a sweet way to remember her dad on what had to be a hard day for Natalia! The model also shared a mirror selfie, per PEOPLE, where she showed off her “first day of grade 15 outfit” that included a long-sleeve shirt and ripped jeans.
Natalia started school in Aug. 2021, which was challenging for Vanessa. “Today was rough. This was before the tears came down,” she wrote on Instagram alongside a series of photos of her daughter. “Missing ✌🏽forever. I love you @nataliabryant BE EPIC and FIGHT ON.”
In Jan. 2020, Kobe died at age 41 alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash that killed nine people, leaving behind his wife and daughters Natalia, Bianka, 6, and Capri, 4. He was honored in March 2023 with handprints and footprints in front of the TCL Chinese Theater, where Natalia gave a touching speech.
“I’m honored to be here today to recognize the man that we all knew and loved, my dad Kobe Bryant,” she said. “…Most people knew him as a basketball player or a storyteller. I got to know and love him as my dad.”
“And let me tell you,” she continued, “he’s the MVP of girl dads to say the least.”
She added that being Kobe’s daughter was “one of the greatest joys of [her] life.” “I hope to continue to embody and cherish the many lessons he has taught me,” she said.
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