Calling him the “truly romantic one in our relationship”, she described how Kobe would go above and beyond for their anniversaries and Valentine’s Day - though the piece of cinema history was one of the most memorable gifts he gave her.
Bryant was with her “soulmate” Kobe for twenty years prior to his and their daughter Gianna’s death in a helicopter crash, which claimed several lives.
Speaking to a packed crowd of mourners at the Staples Centre as Kobe’s yellow 8 and 24 jerseys hung over them, she said, “He just thought outside the box and was so thoughtful, even while working hard to be the best athlete.
"He gifted me the actual notebook and the blue dress that Rachel McAdams wore in The Notebook movie.”
There are a number of memorable outfits from the iconic Nicholas Sparks film, however Kobe had a special reason for choosing the blue dress.
Bryant said, “When I asked him why he chose the blue dress, he said it was because it was a scene when Allie came back to Noah.”
Bryant and Kobe’s relationship - like the characters in The Notebook - was full of ups and downs.
In 2011, Bryant filed for divorce from the basketball star but in 2013 she announced on social media that the had “reconciled” - adding that their “divorce action will be dismissed.”
They had four children together - Bianka Bryant, Natalia Bryant, Capri Bryant, Natalia Diamante Bryant and Gianna Bryant, who passed away with her father in the crash.
“We had hoped to grow old together like the movie. We really had an amazing love story. We loved each other with our whole beings, two perfectly imperfect people, making a beautiful love story and raising our sweet and amazing girls,” she continued.
In 2013 - the same year Bryant announced she and Kobe would not be divorcing - Bryant shared a picture of the gift in a throwback post.
#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 ❤
A post shared by Vanessa Bryant 🦋 (@vanessabryant) on Feb 14, 2013 at 6:29pm PST
Calling it “one of my favourite Valentine’s day gifts”, the iconic blue dress with a floral trim and blue and cream heels were seen in a display case.
She also included two stills from two scenes of the film, one where McAdams is seen running into the water in a red swimsuit while another showed her in the blue dress gripping her co-star Gosling in the rain - the film’s defining moment.
“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,” she said.
She added that the notebook was “a prop but it still has sentimental value.”
At the time of her 2013 post, Vanessa had only just reunited with Kobe, ending a separation and divorce proceedings filed in 2011, a piece of personal history that casts a more significant light on the gift.
“We really had an amazing love story. We loved each other with our whole beings. Two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family and raising our sweet and amazing girls.”
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with The Notebook’s costume designer Karyn Wagner about the dress and its significance to the Bryants.
Revealing that she had “zero idea” that the basketball star had purchased the dress, she said, “When I was finished with the movie, I put the dress in a box and it went into storage.”
Wagner also explained the significance of the dress to the film, as well as why she specifically chose that dress for McAdams.
She said, “We wanted to communicate with [the] audience why she woke up that morning and picked out that blue dress.
She wants to say something to him. The color of that dress is about hope. It’s not a very ornate dress. It’s got just enough detail to make it interesting … it’s a classic dress but it says a lot about her and her hopes for this day.”
Wagner added that she had watched the memorial, saying, “I started bawling. 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.”
Others to pay tribute to the life of Kobe and Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant included Michael Jordan and singers Beyonce and Alicia Keys. Stars including Jennifer Lopez and her fiance Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez, Queen Latifah and more also attended.
Bryant’s heartbreaking eulogy also saw the entire stadium rise to their feet in solidarity, as she said, “I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband and father he was, the kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes.”
Talking about Kobe and his daughter Gianna’s strong bond, she said, “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe you take care of our Gigi. I’ve got Nani, BB and Koko. We’re still the best team.”