Hold your loved ones a little closer. If you’re imagining growing old with your partner like Noah and Allie from The Notebook, Vanessa Bryant said she once imagined the same future with her late husband, Kobe Bryant. During her powerful tribute on Monday, February 24, delivered before more than 20,000 people in the Staples Center, Vanessa recalled her late husband’s devotion to their family and their marriage.
The mourning mom and widow of the NBA legend, 37, alluded to the struggles she faced during her decades-long marriage with Kobe, which included a public scandal followed by a subsequent separation that nearly ended in divorce. Their marriage and overall relationship defied many odds, and Vanessa was first to admit that their partnership, though “amazing,” consisted of “two perfectly imperfect people.”
After filing for divorce in 2011, Vanessa ended up reconciling with Kobe around early 2013. That year on Valentine’s Day, Kobe thoughtfully gifted Vanessa with a special relic from The Notebook, which was one of the most-beloved romance movies of the ‘00s. The NBA player purchased the iconic blue dress from the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’s bestselling book.
In the film, wealthy Southern belle Allie Hamilton (played by Rachel McAdams) defies her parents’ wishes (and her engagement) to make the arduous upstream return back to the love of her life, a mill worker named Noah Calhoun (depicted by Ryan Gosling). Her decision to lead with her heart culminates with an emotional return in a blue dress. The two ended up enjoying a rather long and happy marriage despite opposition from their loved ones. To Kobe, that very relic paralleled his relationship to Vanessa in many ways. In fact, it was representative of their marriage.
“When I asked him why he chose the blue dress, he said it was because it was the scene when Allie comes back to Noah,” Vanessa recalled Monday. “We had hoped to grow old together… like the movie.” She also noted how her tender-hearted husband was a big fan of rom-coms and the overall drama genre. In many ways, he brought a real-life, larger-than-life romance to their marriage.
“We really had an amazing love story,” she continued Monday. “We loved each other with our whole beings. Two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family and raising our sweet and amazing girls.”
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#ThrowbackThursday One of my favorite Valentine’s day gifts from my husband was the blue dress, shoes and THE notebook from the Notebook Movie he gave me years ago. (The notebook is a prop but it still has sentimental value). Happy Valentine’s Day! #tbt #Valentinesday #LoveStory #TheNotebook #Love ❤
The costume designer behind the blue dress, Karyn Wagner, subsequently reacted to the sentimental story. “I had zero idea. When I was finished with the movie, I put the dress in a box and it went into storage,” she told The Hollywood Reporter of the piece. However, she did watch Vanessa Bryant’s tribute. “I started bawling,” she responded. “I’m still drying the tears off my face. What a beautiful eulogy. I’m so honored that I was able to contribute in some small way to the history of this amazing man.”
Vanessa Bryant lost both her husband, Kobe Bryant, as well as their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. Seven others perished while en route to the game over Calabasas, California.