Grieving a husband and a daughter, raising her three surviving children, managing a multimedia company, and running a nonprofit foundation is a lot for a mom to handle. That’s why Vanessa Bryant is on the cover of People’s “Women Changing the World” issue, out this week. More than a year after the tragic helicopter crash that claimed the lives of her husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and her teen daughter Gianna, Bryant is talking about how she has mustered the strength to make it through the past year.
While most of us probably can’t imagine functioning after such a devastating loss, Bryant says that it is her desire to rebuild a life for her kids, Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and 20-month-old Capri, that gets her moving.
“Lying in bed crying isn’t going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again,” Bryant told People. “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.”
Bryant admits, however, that she isn’t strong every day: “I can’t say that there aren’t days when I feel like I can’t survive to the next,” she said.
And that is actually just as important for her daughters to see. According to Christina Steinorth, licensed psychotherapist and author of Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships, “Many parents make the mistake of ‘being strong for the children’ and hiding their feelings of grief. When parents hide their feelings while the kids are grieving too, it doesn’t help children learn to process grief. It almost teaches them that it’s not OK to be sad and have feelings of loss and hurt.”
Especially when the children are also grieving the loss, it is helpful for them to see how adults process those same feelings.
Last month, Bryant took to Instagram to announce that Gianna’s nickname would be added to the name of Kobe Bryant’s youth sports organization, making it now the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. The foundation funds sports programs and athletes in underserved communities, with a special emphasis on making sure women and girls have equal opportunities in sports.
“Because there is no #24 without #2, we have updated the Mamba Sports Foundation to now be called the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation,” Bryant wrote. “Our mission remains the same — and stronger than ever — to provide opportunities to young people through sports. Thank you all for the outpouring of support and your kind donations to date as we carry forth Kobe and Gigi’s legacy. We hope to empower young athletes in a world they left us all to help shape.”
Trying to focus on “finding the light in darkness,” Vanessa is inspired by Kobe and Gigi and tries to channel their “Mamba mentality” into her job as a mother and in everything that she does.
“I guess the best way to describe it is that Kobe and Gigi motivate me to keep going,” she told People. “They inspire me to try harder and be better every day. Their love is unconditional and they motivate me in so many different ways.”
We so admire Vanessa’s determination and resilience. Let’s all try to act with a little more of a “Mamba mentality” in honor of Kobe and Gianna.