Vanessa Bryant Marks First Christmas After Deaths of Kobe and Gianna: ‘Always Together, Never Apart’

As the one-year anniversary of the helicopter crash that killed her husband and daughter approaches, Vanessa Bryant is reflecting on memories of past Christmases as she spends her first holiday season without them.





On Friday, Vanessa — whose husband, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and daughter Gianna, 13, were killed in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash that left seven others dead — shared a throwback photo on Instagram, as well as a more recent shot of herself sitting beside her three other daughters in another post.



In the first pic, Vanessa, 38, sits beside Natalia, 17, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 1, as the foursome all don similar black dresses and matching shoes in the black and white shot. Then, in the next photo in the series, Vanessa shared a photo of the family from a previous photoshoot, with Kobe and Gianna included. “Always Together, Never Apart Together Forever In Our Hearts,” Vanessa wrote in the caption of her post alongside a slew of red heart emojis and the names of each member of her family. On her Instagram Story, Vanessa also revealed in a quick-moving image that she hung Kobe and Gianna’s stockings atop the family’s fireplace. Vanessa and Kobe met in 1999 and married two years later in 2001.



The mom of four has marked many milestones she would have shared with her late husband throughout the year, including what would have been his 42nd birthday in August. At the time, she wrote on Instagram, “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.” The holiday celebrations come shortly after Vanessa accused her mother Sofia Lane of trying to “extort a financial windfall” from her family following Kobe’s untimely death, through a new lawsuit.



In a statement given to PEOPLE, Vanessa alleged that her mom “wants to live off of my daughters and me for the rest of her life while continuing to collect monthly alimony from her ex-husband since 2004.”According to court documents filed this month in California that were obtained by PEOPLE, Laine, 68, is suing her daughter Vanessa for financial support, claiming she worked unpaid as a “longtime personal assistant and nanny” for the family. Laine added in the lawsuit that before his death, Kobe had “promised to take care of” his mother-in-law “for the rest of her life.”