On what would have been his 42nd birthday, Kobe Bryant was remembered across the basketball community for his inspiration as well as his accomplishments. His wife, Vanessa, wrote a deeply personal message of her own, telling of how deeply she feels the loss of the former Los Angeles Lakers star and their daughter, Gianna, who died with him and seven others in a helicopter crash.

“To my baby, Happy 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 on Instagram, referring to Gianna by her nickname. “I wish I could make you your fav 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. I think about your tenderness and patience all the time. I think about everything you would do in situations to help me deal with everything thrown my way. Thank you for growing up with me and teaching me how to be strong. How to try to see the best in people but cut out the [nonsense]. Your thoughtful gestures and the amazing way you made us all feel is extremely missed. I picture your smile and wide big welcoming hugs daily. God I miss you both so much.”

Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash Jan. 26. The 13-year-old shared her father's love of basketball. (The Washington Post)

Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna were flying in a helicopter to one of her basketball games when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, Calif., on a hazy morning in late January. Since then, Vanessa has marked their anniversary, Gianna’s birthday, Father’s Day and the first birthday of daughter Capri along with important dates for the couple’s other daughters, Natalia and Bianka.

“Our lives feel so empty without you and Gigi. I’ve been completely broken inside,” she continued. “As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters’ days shine a little brighter. I’m not the strong one, they are. They’re strong and resilient. I’m sure you’re proud of them. They put a smile on my face every day. I wish I could wake up from this horrible nightmare. I wish I could surprise our girls and welcome you and Gigi home to us.

“I’m mad I didn’t go first. I always wanted to go first so that I selfishly didn’t have to feel this heartache. You were supposed to miss me. Gigi was supposed to be here with her sisters. 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. In every lifetime I would choose YOU. Thank you for showing me what real love is. Thank YOU for everything. I know my Gigi is celebrating you like she always has on our special days. I miss my thoughtful princess so much! Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, Capri and I wish you a happy birthday my love. I love you for now, forever and for always. ❤️#amoreterno 🎂42

Bryant’s birthday falls on the day before Aug. 24, or 8-24. That signifies the two numbers Bryant wore during his career with the Lakers and the team plans to wear a tribute uniform for Game 4 of its playoff series with Portland on Monday night. “A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about him,” LeBron James said in a quote shared by the Lakers.

Diana Taurasi of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury wore Bryant’s name and No. 8 on her jersey Sunday night as her team beat the Washington Mystics.

“I was really hesitant to wear the jersey today,” she said. “I was in my room, and I kept looking at it and looking at it. When you put his jersey on, you just want to make sure you honor it the right way. That’s all I was thinking about all game. What would Kobe do today? I know Kobe would have fought his ass off every minute. This is for him and his family.”

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