Vanessa Bryant on Managing Her Grief: "My Girls Help Me Smile Through the Pain"

Vanessa Bryant is opening up about how she and her children have been coping since her husband, Kobe, and daughter Gianna passed away in a helicopter accident on Jan. 26, 2020. In a cover story for People, Vanessa shared that her daughters — Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 20 months — are what give her strength.

"Helping my girls navigate through this heartache is important to me," Vanessa explained. "Making sure that they know that they are loved, supported and important is what motivates me."

Vanessa admitted that she's had good days and bad days in the last year, but thankfully, her children have been an incredible support system. "My eyes and pain can't be filtered in person," she said. "They know mommy has hard days but when I see their faces when they realize that I've been crying, it makes me straighten up and push through for them. I counter it with making them smile about something. . . . Always finding the light in darkness."

"They're people that I would aspire to be if I was growing up with them."

She continued, "I can't say that I'm strong every day [and] I can't say that there aren't days when I feel like I can't survive to the next," adding: "My girls help me smile through the pain. They give me strength."

Vanessa said she has been leaning on Natalia — whom she calls her "right-hand woman" — in particular. "I'm extremely proud of Natalia," she said. "On top of her own grief, she has balanced her senior year of high school, applying to colleges, nurturing her sisters, and just recently signing her own modeling contract with IMG. She is a wonderful big sister and an incredible daughter."

She also shared that all of her daughters are "strong, resilient, respectful and kind," and that she's incredibly proud of how they've handled adversity. "They're people that I would aspire to be if I was growing up with them."