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Vanessa Bryant drops off daughter Natalia at USC: 'Today was rough'

She lost her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a tragic January 2020 helicopter crash.
/ Source: TODAY

College move-in day was bittersweet for the Bryant family, who continue to grapple with the loss of their patriarch, Kobe Bryant.

On Thursday, the late basketball legend’s wife, Vanessa, shared a picture she took with daughters Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 2, at the University of Southern California. In the snap, the family — including incoming freshman Natalia — are all smiles.

“Today was rough,” Vanessa captioned he Instagram post. (This was before tears came down.) Missing [two-fingers emoji] forever. I love you @nataliabryant BE EPIC and FIGHT ON.”

The emoji was a possible reference to losing Kobe and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a tragic January 2020 helicopter crash that also claimed seven other lives.

The Bryant family posed for a photo in 2018. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic

In March, Vanessa opened up about the “unimaginable pain” she experienced after losing Kobe and Gianna.

“You just have to get up and push forward," she told People. "Lying in bed isn’t going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again… 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.”

Natalia received the news that she'd been accepted at the University of Southern California about 14 months after her father and sister were killed.

“Tears of joy. I’m SO happy for you Nani!” Vanessa gushed on Instagram at the time. “I know daddy is so PROUD OF YOU. I AM so PROUD OF YOU!! Your hard work and dedication was so worth it. You pushed through the most excruciating pain imaginable and you succeeded. I wish Daddy and Gigi were physically here to celebrate but I know they’re here in spirit.”

Vanessa also showed off the custom kicks she got Natalia to mark her acceptance, posting a photo of a pair of Kobe’s signature shoes in the USC colors of cardinal and gold.

“Every step of the way,” she wrote.