Nearly 14 months ago, one of the most influential NBA players of all time and one of his daughters died in tragic accident. Now, Vanessa Bryant opened up about dealing with grief after her husband Kobe Bryant, 41, their daughter Gianna, 13, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash outside Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2020.
Bryant called her pain "unimaginable," in a new PEOPLE interview published on March 3, and admitted it's sometimes difficult to remain strong. "I can't say that I'm strong every day. I can't say that there aren't days when I feel like I can't survive to the next," she said. However, caring for their daughters — Natalia, Bianka, and Capri — has been what gets her out of bed. "Lying in bed crying isn't going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again," she added. "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."
Bryant has also taken on a number of projects to keep herself busy, many of which are in dedication to Kobe and Gianna. Most recently, she relaunched Kobe's Mamba and Mamacita Sports Foundation, a nod to their family nicknames. The charity aims to provide equal opportunities for underprivileged aspiring athletes. She also has taken over her late husband's Granity Studios production company to finish projects he started.
On the one-year anniversary of their death in January, Bryant honored the father-daughter duo by sharing a letter she received from one of Gianna's best friends, Aubrey Callaghan. "My mind constantly thinks of your beautiful daughter," it reads. "Her smile and attitude push me to be better. You have probably heard this, but if I ever become a mom, I hope my daughter turns out exactly like yours did." Bryant added her own tribute in the caption, saying that her loss still "doesn't feel real" and addressing her husband and daughter directly: "Kob, we did it right. Gigi, you still make mommy proud. I love you!"
Bryant told PEOPLE that her "Kob-Kob" and Gigi still "motivate her to keep going" even on her worst days. "They inspire me to try harder and be better every day," she said. "Their love is unconditional and they motivate me in so many different ways." Now, she's able to make it through every day with the help of all of her family. "My girls help me smile through the pain," she said. "They give me strength. I want to make Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka and Capri proud."