Vanessa Bryant takes daughter Natalia to USC for freshman year

"Today was rough," the Bryant matriarch wrote, noting the Instagram pic was "before the tears came down."

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The Bryant family experienced a new major milestone this year when 18-year-old Natalia Bryant, the eldest daughter of Vanessa Bryant and late NBA great Kobe Bryant, headed off to college at the University of Southern California. 

In an Instagram post on Thursday, Vanessa Bryant shared a selfie with daughters Natalia, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 2. The family was smiling brightly as they dropped the eldest Bryant girl off at her move-in day at USC. 

“Today was rough,” Mama Vanessa wrote, noting the picture was “before the tears came down.” 

She added: “Missing ✌🏽forever.” 

It can be assumed that she was referencing her husband and their daughter, Gianna, who both died in a tragic helicopter crash in January of 2020. 

“I love you @nataliabryant,” she wrote. “BE EPIC and FIGHT ON.” The post ended with a red and yellow heart emoji. 

Natalia commented, “I love you!!!” Friends and supporters also cheered the teenager on in the comment section. 

In June of 2021, Vanessa Bryant shared photos and video clips from Natalia’s high school graduation. In a caption, she wrote, “Congratulations Natalia! We will ALL be with you every step of the way.”

As previously reported, at her graduation from Sage Hill High School, Natalia was awarded the school’s Compassion Award. “A Sage Hill student with compassion is one who has sincere empathy and dedication to those around them, along with sensitivity toward the impact of their endeavors,” said the administrator who presented it to her. “No matter what is happening to her in her own life, she exhibits grace and empathy toward others. The positive energy she exudes on a daily basis is infectious.”

Natalia Bryant (via Vanessa Bryant Instagram)

Natalia was accepted to USC in March, and she shared an Instagram video of herself jumping up and down in excitement with a bright smile. She was then saluted by her mother, who said Natalia finished her senior year and “pushed through the most excruciating pain imaginable and you succeeded.”

In the “Women Changing the World” issue of People magazine earlier this year, Vanessa Bryant said of her daughter, “On top of her own grief, she has balanced her senior year of high school, applying to colleges, nurturing her sisters, and just recently signing her own modeling contract with IMG.” She called her eldest her “right-hand woman.”

This article features reporting from theGrio’s Matthew Allen. 

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