Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa says she ‘wanted to be first to go so I didn’t have to feel heartache’ on star’s birthday

KOBE Bryant's devastated wife has paid a heartbreaking tribute to her basketball star husband on his 42nd birthday.

Vanessa Bryant, 38, lost her husband and daughter Gianna, 13, in a tragic helicopter crash in January this year.

Taking to Instagram, she wrote a lengthy tribute, confessing: "I'm mad I didn't go first.

"I always wanted to go first so that selfishly I didn't have to feel this heartache."

She added: "To my baby~ Happy birthday. I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain. I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU! I wish I could make you your fav food or a birthday cake with my Gigi."

Vanessa went on to describe her surviving three daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and 14-month-old Capri as "strong and resilient," adding: "I'm sure you're proud of them. They put a smile on my face everyday."

She continued: "I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud ass deep laugh. I miss teasing you, making you laugh and bursting your bubble.

"I miss you sitting on my lap like my big baby that you are. I think about your tenderness and patience all the time.

"I think about everything you would do in situations to help me deal with everything thrown my way.

"God I miss you both so much. Our lives feel so empty without you and Gigi. I've been completely broken inside."

The couple's eldest daughter, Natalia also posted a touching tribute to her dad, featuring the 17-year-old as a tiny baby, tucked into Kobe's arms as he tickles her chin.

She captioned the Instagram post: "Happy Bithday Dad, I miss your smile, laugh and big bear hugs.

"Happy Birthday to the best movie buddy I could have ever asked for. I will always remember our late night drives to the movie theater with the windows rolled down and listening to our favorite songs.

"I love you forever and always."

A slew of famous friends including Snoop Dogg, Justin Timberlake and Kris Jenner also sent gifts to the family and posted messages of support wishing the late star a happy birthday.

Thoughtful A-list pals sent bouquets of flowers to the family, as well as a selection of some of Kobe's favourite snacks including salty popcorn and Sour Patch Kids.

Nike has also declared this week this week as Mamba Week and Sunday Mamba Day, donating $1 million to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which aims to further Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s legacy through charitable endeavors in sports, according to their Instagram.

The company also posted a touching tribute video, narrated by Kendrick Lamar.

The death of the much-loved NBA star sent shockwaves of grief throughout the world in what was a catastrophic start to an unprecedented year.

Investigations are continuing into the crash on January 26 that also killed seven other people in Calabasas, California.

In June, new details emerged about the crash as 1,700 pages of reports were released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

It revealed pilot Ara Zobayan told air traffic controllers he was climbing when he was actually descending before the crash.

The pilot also told passengers that the weather was looking "okay" in text messages before the planned departure.

Kobe, a five-time NBA champion, was travelling with his daughter and others for a basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks.

Most other air traffic that morning – including LAPD choppers – were grounded due to fog and rain.

The N72EX chopper had been reportedly flying at about 184 miles-per-hour in "blinding fog".

It then plunged more than 1,000 feet in about a minute, crash-landing into a fireball on a mountainside at 9.46am.

A well-wisher in the UK sent white roses

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