Moving forward. Vanessa Bryant is trying to find the “light in the darkness” 14 months after the heartbreaking helicopter crash that killed her husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and her 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant.
The grieving widow is opening up about how she is working through her sadness, but admits some days are harder than others. "I can't say that I'm strong every day," Vanessa said, adding, "I can't say that there aren't days when I feel like I can't survive to the next."
"This pain is unimaginable, [but] you just have to get up and push forward," she declared. "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."
Vanessa knows she has to stay strong for her and Kobe’s three other daughters, Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 1, and reveals that it’s her children who “help me [keep] smiling” through the devastating pain and they are giving her “strength” as she copes with her loss.
Vanessa also credits her late husband and Gigi for giving her the motivation “to keep going,” noting “they inspire me to try harder and be better every day.” She continued: “Their love is unconditional and they motivate me in so many different ways.”
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In the end, Vanessa says her main goal is “to make Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka and Capri proud."
As OK! previously reported, on the morning of January 26, 2020, Kobe, his daughter and a group of friends — which included Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa — set out in a helicopter to attend a basketball game.
Piloted by Ara Zobayan, the helicopter ultimately crashed in Calabasas, Calif. Zobayan had 10 years experience flying in the area, but he climbed sharply before banking (swift change in direction) abruptly and plunged into the California hillside. There were no survivors.
Nearly a year after the crash, OK! learned the heartbreaking helicopter crash that killed all nine on board was most likely caused by the pilot’s “spatial disorientation,” according to National Transportation Safety Board officials.
NTSB investigators are claiming that moments before the crash, the pilot thought the aircraft was climbing when in fact it was descending. One investigator described it as “the pilot doesn’t know which way is up.” Authorities admitted that spatial disorientation is a very dangerous condition — and they are wanting more aircraft carriers to implement programs to help prevent pilots from experiencing the frightening ordeal during flight.
Bryant first spoke with PEOPLE for the magazine's Women Changing the World issue.