Vanessa Bryant shares heartwarming pics of daughter Natalia for 18th birthday ahead of tragic Kobe crash anniversary

VANESSA Bryant shared heartwarming photos for her daughter Natalia's 18th birthday ahead of the one year anniversary of the tragic plane crash that killed Kobe and their daughter, Gianna.

The birthday posts were accompanied by sweet messages about how Natalia, Kobe and Vanessa's eldest daughter, has stepped up to take care of her little sisters.

"Mommy and Daddy are so proud of the young lady that you are," Vanessa wrote in one of the captions.

"You have displayed so much strength and grace throughout the most difficult year of our lives. Thank you for stepping in to help me with your little sisters.

"You're such an incredible big sister and a beautiful role model to so many people."

Last week, Vanessa took to Instagram to ask for respect for the family as January 26 – the anniversary of the day Kobe and 13-year-old Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California – approaches.

The tragic crash killed all nine people on board.

"Please be considerate when airing or posting remembrance footage," Vanessa wrote in a post addressed to the media.

"We ask that you do not air photos of the wreckage, helicopter in the air or accident scene. We do NOT want to see it. Our year has been traumatic enough.

"You have thousands of photos and videos you can show besides footage of 1/26/20."

Vanessa also opened up recently about how the grief has affected her in the year since the tragedy.

"Let me be real – Grief is a messed up cluster of emotions," she wrote in an Instagram story.

"One day you're in the moment laughing and the next day you don't feel like being alive. I want to say this for people struggling with grief and heartbreaking loss. Find your reason to live. I know it's hard.

"I look at my daughters and I try to push through that feeling for them. Death is guaranteed but living the rest of the day isn't. Find your reason."

Kobe and Vanessa met in 1999 on the set of a music video while she was working as a model.

They were engaged after six months together, and got married in 2001.

They had four daughters – Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 1.

Kobe is widely considered one of the greatest players in NBA history.

He retired in 2016 after 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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