The magnitude of loss that Vanessa Bryant is feeling right now must be unreal – and that’s an understatement.
It was just nine days ago when a helicopter crash took the lives of her husband, Kobe, their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other victims: John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan.
As a result of this terrible tragedy, 37-year-old Vanessa is left to raise their other three daughters by herself. She and Kobe shared a special love that lasted over 20 years, and there’s a sweet story behind how they met.
A possible little-known fact about Kobe is that he was a rapper for a brief moment in the late 1990s, and it turns out that he met Vanessa during a music video shoot back in 1999. He spoke on their first encounter during a 2015 Showtime documentary titled Kobe Bryant’s Muse.
“It was a two-day video shoot, and I was always looking for her, like I wanted to know where she was,” Bryant said. “I would finish a take and go to my trailer but I would wonder where she was the entire time.”
“Then I would come out of the trailer and just wanted to talk to her some more, in between takes and stuff like that.”
Bryant decided to shoot his shot, and it worked – he scored Vanessa’s number. They would talk for hours on the phone, but Kobe was still a bit shy about one thing.
“I thought I was a big dork because I loved Disneyland. I loved the Disney movies and things like that, but I never really had a chance to go to the park much.”
As it turned out, the basketball star had nothing to fear.
“She was a big Disney fan, too, and we used to hang out as Disneyland, we used to go to Magic Mountain, she became my best friend.”
Kobe also added that they basically became inseparable.
“She was just beautiful…we literally did everything together. Everything together.”
Their inseparability led to the couple becoming engaged shortly after Vanessa’s 18th birthday in May of 2000.
“We decided to get married,” Kobe said. “I proposed and she said yes.”
Being that Bryant was only 22 when they were married, he fondly recalled this latter part of his own youth spent with Vanessa.
“We’re both so young, right? We’d wake up and do what kids do,” he said. “I’d take her to the batting cage, go hit some balls, we’d play miniature golf, go to the movies, go out to eat, it was just a beautiful time, man.”
Their love story later brought about four beautiful children, all girls, and Kobe loved it that way.
“Girls are the best,” he said. “I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”