It's a day Vanessa Bryant never imagined she would commemorate.
Just before midnight, Vanessa posted a loving photo to Instagram of Kobe and Gianna with giant smiles as they embraced along the sideline of a basketball court. "THE Best," she simply captioned it, adding two heart emojis.
At this time last year, Vanessa's life drastically changed when her loved ones tragically passed away, along with seven others, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. Just days after their fatal accident, the mother of four shared a heartbreaking statement about her devastating loss.
"My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time," she began her Instagram message at the time. "Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them."
"We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe—the amazing father of our children," she continued, "and my beautiful, sweet Gianna—a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri."
Additionally, Vanessa honored those who lost their lives in the same helicopter crash, which included Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan.
"We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately," she shared. "There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon."
Since losing her husband of 19 years and teenage daughter, Vanessa has continued to keep their memory alive. Back in August, she posted a heartfelt tribute to the Lakers legend on what would've been his 42nd birthday.
"I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain. I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU," she wrote. "I wish I could make you your fav [sic] food or a birthday cake with my Gigi. I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud ass deep laugh. I miss teasing you, making you laugh and bursting your bubble. I miss you sitting on my lap like my big baby that you are."
In her post, Vanessa also admitted that she "always wanted to go first" so she wouldn't ever have to feel this "heartache."
"You were supposed to miss me. Gigi was supposed to be here with her sisters," she continued. "It should've been me. There's so much I wish I could tell you and show you and Gigi. So many things you would both be happy to see and be a part of. So many milestones for our girls. So many things you would be proud of. I'm so thankful I have pieces of heaven here on earth to wake up for—thanks to YOU. Thank you for loving me enough to last several lifetimes."
Over the past year, Vanessa has honored her husband and daughter on several special occasions. However, just a little over a week ago, she took a moment to open up about how she's been dealing with their loss.
"Let me be real," she shared on Instagram Stories on Jan. 15. "Grief is a messed up cluster of emotions. One day you're in the moment laughing and the next day you don't feel like being alive."
The proud mom explained she wanted to speak out in order to help others going through the same thing.
"I want to say this for people struggling with grief and heartbreaking loss. Find your reason to live," she encouraged. "I know it's hard. I look at my daughters and I try to push through that feeling for them. Death is guaranteed but living the rest of the day isn't. Find your reason."
Vanessa's 18-year-old daughter Natalia expressed a similar message a month prior, saying, "I wasn't going to do this one, but thought it was important to share because you never know when someone is going through problems of their own."
"I genuinely think that it is so important to find your close circle of trusted people and be able to vocalize your feelings to them when you are down or not feeling like yourself," she added. "This is also a lot easier said than done but just know that you are never alone. This is something I have learned throughout this year and still continue to work at with the help of close family and friends."
For the latest updates on the one-year anniversary of Kobe and Gianna's deaths, click here.