Vanessa Bryant shares Valentine’s Day tribute to Kobe Bryant

The widow of the Los Angeles Lakers star honored their timeless love on social media with a post that has so far received over 1 million 'likes'.

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Vanessa Bryant penned a short but sweet Valentine’s Day tribute to her late husband on Instagram Monday. 

The widow of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant honored their timeless love on social media with a post that has so far received over 1 million ‘likes’.  The photo features the couple posed lovingly together along with the caption: “Happy Valentine’s Day, Baby. My Forever Valentine. ❤️ #AmoreMio#TiAmo#PerSempre,” Vanessa, 39, wrote.

Kobe Bryant and his wife, Vanessa (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed on Jan. 26, 2020, when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California amid foggy weather while on the way to a girls basketball tournament. Federal safety officials blamed pilot error for the accident.

As reported by PEOPLE, 13-year-old Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, 46, 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, 46, John Altobelli, 56, Christina Mauser, 38, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50, were also killed in the crash. Bryant’s widow learned about their deaths on social media — hours before she received official confirmation from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, theGrio reported.

In November, a judge ruled that Vanessa will not be required to undergo a psychiatric test to prove she suffered emotional distress over leaked photos of her husband and daughter’s remains, theGrio reported. 

The judge rejected Los Angeles County’s request that the mother of four must undergo a psychiatric exam as part of her lawsuit against the county over the photos, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE

The county’s motion to have the lawsuit thrown out has also been denied, CNN reported. The trial is set for Feb. 22.

(Screenshot of Vannessa Bryant’s Valentine’s Day tribute to Kobe Bryant on Instagram)

TheGrio reported that in her response to the motion by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to have her lawsuit against them dismissed, Vanessa said she learned after the crash that several sheriff’s deputies and firefighters were showing photos of her husband and daughter taken at the crash site to others. She said hearing that the photos existed sent her into a “constant cycle of distress.”

“It infuriates me that the people I trusted to protect the dignity of my husband and daughter abused their positions to obtain souvenirs of their deaths, as though possessing pictures of their remains somehow makes them special. I imagine Kobe watching over what occurred at that crash scene, and I am overcome by anger and emotion,” Bryant stated. 

“I feel sick at the thought that deputies and firefighters have gawked at photos of my husband’s and child’s bodies without any reason,” she added. “I also feel extreme sadness and anger knowing that photos of my husband’s and daughter’s bodies were laughed about while shown at a bar and awards banquet.”

Vanessa said trolls have approached her claiming to have copies of the photos and threatened to release them.

“For the rest of my life, one of two things will happen: either close-up photos of my husband’s and daughter’s bodies will go viral online, or I will continue to live in fear of that happening,” she concluded her statement in the legal doc. 

Vanessa and Kobe wed in April 2001 and had four daughters together: Natalia, 19, Bianka, 4½, Capri, 2, and Gianna. Kobe was 41 at the time of his death.

In a March 2021 interview with PEOPLE, Vanessa opened up about her grieving process after the loss of her husband and daughter, admitting at the time, “This pain is unimaginable [but] you just have to get up and push forward. Lying in bed crying isn’t going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again. But getting out of bed and pushing forward is going to make the day better for my girls and for me. So that’s what I do.”

This article contains additional reporting from theGrio’s Biba Adams.

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