Vanessa Bryant sends daughter back to university with flowers and note she signed for late father, Kobe Bryant

In a sweet gesture, Vanessa Bryant sent her daughter Natalia flowers and a note signed on behalf of her late father, Kobe Bryant, in honor of her first day back at the University of Southern California.

In an Instagram story posted on 21 August, Natalia displayed a photo of the flowers and the note. Surrounded by pink, orange and yellow blooms, it read: “Happy first day of school! Love you always, Daddy.”

“First day of school always, @kobebryant,” Natalia wrote above a snap of the flowers. The college junior also expressed her gratitude to her mom: “Thank you Mommy, @vanessabryant.”

The Instagram story was later re-posted to Vanessa’s channel. Natalia also posted a picture of her back-to-school outfit, which consisted of ripped jeans and a long-sleeved top. She captioned the photo, saying: “First day of grade 15.”

Bryant reportedly sent the flowers and heartfelt note in her late husband’s name so that Natalia could feel the love and pride he would have had for his daughter on her big day. In 2020, Kobe and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a tragic helicopter accident along with seven other people while en route to a basketball game.

Vanessa and Kobe share two more daughters, 4-year-old Capri, and 6-year-old Bianka, along with Natalia and the late Gianna.

Vanessa called Natalia her “right-hand woman” and praised her daughter’s resilience to People in 2021, “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.”

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Natalia said she was dedicated to keeping her father’s memory alive: “I love talking about my dad. It’s bittersweet, but I enjoy talking about him more than it’s sad for me.”

"You do the best that you can,” she continued. “[For] my little sisters [we’re] trying to keep that memory for them. And also just trying to remember to live out every day the way they would."

The eldest Bryant daughter has continued to honor her father, with the latest tribute being in March 2023 at the unveiling of her father’s handprints at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Before her two younger sisters placed their handprints beside their father’s, Natalia spoke in his memory.

"Dad, you’re an icon, a legend, the storyteller, and most importantly, the best girl dad any young woman could ever dream of," she said, according to People. "I’m honoured to be here to represent you and our family, and we are extremely proud of you. We will love you forever and always. Love, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, Capri, and Mommy."

Before the tragic accident, Kobe spoke about how he loved being a girl dad and how proud he was of his daughters. "My friends say, ‘It takes a real man to make a boy,’ " he told ExtraTV in 2017. "I’m like, ‘Dude, it takes a king to make a princess … get in line’ … It’s pretty cool for me ‘cause it’s Daddy’s little princesses."