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Vanessa Bryant posts poignant letter from daughter Gianna's friend 1 year after death

A close friend of Gianna Bryant recalled playing basketball with her, sharing snacks and writing each other notes before her death in a helicopter crash last year.
Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna
"My mind constantly thinks of your beautiful daughter," Gianna Bryant's friend, Aubrey Callaghan, wrote in a letter marking the one-year anniversary of her death. "Her smile and attitude push me to be better."Allen Berezovsky / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Vanessa Bryant is keeping memories of her daughter Gianna alive on the one-year anniversary of her death in a helicopter crash alongside her husband and Gianna's father, NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

The mother of four, 38, shared a letter on Instagram that she recently received from a close friend of Gianna, Aubrey Callaghan, which included poignant details about their relationship. Gianna, who went by Gigi among close friends and family, was 13 years old when she died Jan. 26, 2020.

"I love you Aubz (as my Gigi would call you)," Bryant captioned photos of the letter. "Thank you so much for beautifully sharing some of your memories of my Gigi with me and allowing me to share them here on my ig. My Gigi is INCREDIBLE and I truly appreciate your thoughtful letter. She loves you so much."

The letter begins with Aubrey sharing with Gianna's mother that she thinks about and prays for her constantly and that if she ever has a daughter, she hopes she is just like her late friend.

"She was kind, caring and endlessly polite," Aubrey wrote. "I remember sitting with her at lunch in second grade as she taught us not to eat while we talked. Yet this was not a snotty teaching, she was not correcting us, but helping us be better versions of ourselves.

"She attacked each day as though it was hers to conquer. She would smile and bring the rest of us up with her. The mere fact that she boosted my confidence enough to get me to play basketball with her for four years shows how powerful she was. She had a fiercely competitive side also, as you know."

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Aubrey went on to praise Gianna as "fiery and stubborn" and for knowing what she wanted. She also recalled her big hopes for joining student council, which included bake sales and scavenger hunts "that gave the rest of us hope for a bleary school year."

"Yet she cared," Aubrey added. "She knew when I was having a bad day, and knew just how to make it better. She was generous with her snacks when I forgot mine. She left me notes in my notebook that I cherish. She was incredible."

Kobe Bryant warms up with daughter Gianna during the NBA All-Star Game in February 2016.Elsa / Getty Images

Aubrey also emphasized Gianna's passion for equality in sports and how she "changed (the) lives" of every person whom she came across.

"Her simple actions made all of us a better person, and I believe that the results of this will never stop appearing," she wrote.

"I hope that in the midst of your intense sadness, you catch a glimpse of joy in who the daughter you created and raised was. You did it right, Mrs. Bryant, and we are all eternally grateful to you."

"I love you and am thinking of you as we remember and honor her life," Aubrey concluded. "If you ever need more stories of her, I am filled to the brim and would be (privileged) to share them with you."

Kobe Bryant and his family on Dec. 18, 2017, in Los AngelesMaxx Wolfson / Getty Images

Exactly a year ago, Kobe and Gianna Bryant and seven other people died when a helicopter transporting them to a basketball game crashed in Southern California. The five-time NBA champion, who was 41 at the time of his death, and Vanessa Bryant are also parents to daughters Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 1.

"I miss my baby girl and Kob-Kob so much, too," Vanessa Bryant concluded her Instagram post with Aubrey's letter. "I will never understand why/how this tragedy could’ve happened to such beautiful, kind and amazing human beings. It still doesn’t seem real. Kob, we did it right. Gigi, you still make mommy proud. I love you!"