Gracefully centered as the cover star of PEOPLE magazine’s Women Changing The World issue, Vanessa Bryant is opening up on how she’s resiliently adjusting to a world without her husband, NBA giant Kobe Bryant, and her daughter, rising basketball star Gianna. Two months removed from the one-year anniversary of their deaths in a fatal helicopter ride, Vanessa is inspiringly upholding their legacy and piecing together the fragments of heartache to rebuild a life with her daughters.
“I can’t say that I’m strong every day,” the 38-year-old says in the exclusive interview with PEOPLE.“I can’t say that there aren’t days when I feel like I can’t survive to the next.”
For Bryant, experiencing grief in such a magnitude means there are days where she’s overwhelmed by sorrow but she says she leans on the love of Kobe and Gigi to see her through the storm. “They inspire me to try harder and be better every day. Their love is unconditional and they motivate me in so many different ways.”
Bryant is now in charge of Granity Studios, Kobe’s multimedia production company that he hoped would be home to storytelling for younger generations. Earlier this year, she relaunched the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a non-profit organization founded through the vision and memory of the father-daughter duo. The organization funds efforts to champion causes that were imperative to Kobe’s advocacy in the league: creating an equal playing field in sports for both young women and underserved athletes.
Bryant credits her daughters — Natalia (18), Bianka (4) and Capri (20 months) — for giving her strength on days when the pain feels unbearable. “My girls help me smile through the pain. They give me strength,” she shares.
Candidly, she adds, “Lying in bed crying 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.”