Do not read this if your mascara isn’t waterproof, fellow moms and humans with beating hearts. Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram again on Thursday to share videos of a ceremony at late daughter Gianna Bryant’s school, where they were retiring the 13-year-old’s basketball jersey.
But before Bryant posted the videos, she began with a photograph of the auditorium and words that make us cry every time we read them.
“My Gianna,” she wrote. “God I miss you. I’ve been so lucky to have woken up to see your gorgeous face and amazing smile for 13 years. Wish it would’ve been until my last breath. Mommy loves you to the moon and back. Infinity plus 1.”
We don’t know if the grieving mother was at the jersey retirement ceremony at Harbor Day School in Newport Beach or if someone documented it for her, but either way we can only imagine how hard it was for her to witness it. As teachers, administrators, and the school’s basketball coach all spoke about Gianna, their voices often cracked. Before the helicopter crash that killed her, father Kobe Bryant, and seven others, the eighth grader was clearly an accomplished, beloved student at her school.
“She was one of the busiest people I think I have ever taught,” Yunga Webb, her music teacher and adviser said. And though she was heavily involved in the student council, her basketball team, bell choir and other activities, her teachers said she didn’t ever brag or ask for special treatment.
“She was one of the most humble people I’ve ever known,” Webb said. “She didn’t need to brag. She just needed to be a light where she stood. … Her presence is greatly missed because she elevated our group. She made us better and she makes us better.”
Webb said her students continue to remember Gianna every day during roll call.
“We call her name, and when we call her name, I hear 40-plus kids say, ‘Here,’ in honor of her,” she said. “Because she’s always with us.”
Basketball coach Joshua Parks also spoke about Gianna’s positive attitude, though he also saw her competitive side on the court.
“She had that Mamba mentality,” he said. “No matter who we were playing, she was going to force her will and help us find a way to win.”
Bryant finished her series of posts with another still photograph of her daughter’s framed jersey.
“My Gigi,” she wrote. “I love you! I miss you. You’ve taught us all that no act of kindness is ever too small. Mommy is still and will ALWAYS be so proud of you mamacita.”