Kobe Bryant’s wife has paid tribute to her late husband on what would have been his 42nd birthday, saying she wishes she could “wake up from this horrible nightmare”.

The US basketball legend and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash in January.

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant at an awards dinner last year

Vanessa Bryant says she was ‘completely broken inside.

Vanessa Bryant shared a message with her nearly 14 million Instagram followers in which she said she loved and missed her basketball star husband and daughter Gianna “more than I can ever explain”

The pair and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in January.

Mrs Bryant wrote: “To my baby. Happy birthday. I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain. I wish you and Gigi were here to celebrate YOU!”

Bryant pictured with his daughter Gianna in Las Vegas in July last year

She continued: “I wish I could make your fav food or a birthday cake with my Gigi. I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud a** deep laugh.”

The widow described how she wanted to break down but had to keep a positive attitude for her surviving children, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.

“Our lives feel so empty without you and Gigi. I’ve been completely broken inside. As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters’ days shine a little brighter. I’m not the strong one, they are,” she wrote.

Mrs Bryant said she wished she had died before her husband and daughter as it was too painful to live without them.

“I’m mad I didn’t go first… It should’ve been me,” she said.

“I know my Gigi is celebrating you like she always has on our special days. I miss my thoughtful princess so much.”

In May, Mrs Bryant marked the birthday of her eldest daughter Gianna, who would have turned 14.

Vanessa Laine Bryant reacts during a public memorial for her late husband, NBA great Kobe Bryant, her daughter Gianna and seven others killed in a helicopter crash on January 26, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 24, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

“Happy 14th Birthday to my sweet baby girl, Gianna,” she wrote on Instagram. “Mommy loves you more than I can ever show you. You are part of MY SOUL forever.”

She also shared a letter from her husband which she found unopened after his death.

Mrs Bryant said she had waited until her birthday to open the letter, which had been addressed to ‘The Love of my Life’.