Vanessa Bryant honors Kobe on wedding anniversary: 'My king, my heart, my best friend'

"Happy 19th wedding anniversary baby. I miss you so much. I wish you were here to hold me in your arms," Vanessa Bryant wrote.
Image: Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant
NBA player Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant attend an EIF Women's Cancer Research Fund event at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California on May 2, 2013.Donato Sardella / Getty Images for EIF file

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By Nicole Acevedo

Vanessa Bryant is commemorating an emotional milestone.

Saturday would have marked her and late husband Kobe Bryant's 19th wedding anniversary — their first since Kobe and their daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash three months ago.

"My king, my heart, my best friend. Happy 19th wedding anniversary baby. I miss you so much. I wish you were here to hold me in your arms. I love you," Bryant wrote on an Instagram post, sharing an old photo of Kobe kissing her on the cheek.

The couple met in 1999 during a music video shoot. Kobe was 20 and Vanessa was 17 when they had their first date at Disneyland. The NBA icon proposed to Vanessa after she turned 18 and they got married on April 18, 2001.

In an MTV News interview shortly after the wedding, Kobe described his wife as a "strong-willed" woman.

”Love is a funny thing. I can’t explain it and I can’t understand it. All I know is, she caught my heart and I just knew that she was the one,” Kobe said about Vanessa.

They went on to have four daughters together: Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, Capri, 9 months, and Gianna, who died at the age of 13 and shared her father's passion for basketball.

The Bryant's anniversary comes a day after the WNBA honored Gianna and two other teens who also died in the same helicopter crash.

Commissioner Cathy Englebert named Gianna, also known as Gigi, and her Mamba Academy teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester as honorary draftees during the WNBA draft on Friday.

“These athletes represented the future of the WNBA,” Englebert said. “While it brings us pain not to see their dreams come to fruition, I’m grateful and proud to announce them tonight as honorary draft picks.”

“I’m so proud of you, Gigi. God I miss you baby,” Vanessa Bryant wrote on Instagram after the ceremony. “I wish I could hold you and tell you how proud I am of you. You’re the best, baby girl. Mommy loves and misses you more than I could ever express."