Even in a year as surprising as 2020, the sudden deaths of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna (better known as “Gigi”) came as a complete shock. They tragically died on January 26, 2020 in a helicopter crash along with seven others on board while on the way to one of Gigi’s basketball games. Fans had trouble processing their grief, and they turned to learning everything they could about Kobe’s hidden private life.
Kobe and Gigi were survived by his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and his older daughter Natalia. Fans understandably flocked to these two women on social media in the wake of Kobe and Gigi’s death. However, those same fans got a surprise when Vanessa and Natalia started blocking Kobe and Gigi fan accounts on Instagram.
What’s the story behind this, and what does it tell us about Kobe Bryant’s legacy? Here’s the true reason why Vanessa and Natalia Bryant blocked Kobe and Gigi fan pages on Instagram.
The Aftermath of Kobe’s Death
One of the weirder things about celebrities is fans feel like they have a real relationship with the famous person. Even when they have never met, hardcore fans share in both the joys and the grief of celebs.
Because Kobe Bryant’s death was so sudden and so shocking, those hardcore fans needed to deal with their grief. In order to process that grief, many began creating fan accounts on Instagram. These accounts helped to celebrate the life and accomplishments of this superstar player.
When Vanessa and Natalia Bryant reacted by blocking these accounts on Instagram, it felt like a slap in the face to some fans. However, the story behind this surprise move will only make you sadder about Kobe’s passing.
The Official Story
Shortly after Kobe’s death, Vanessa Bryant and her daughter Natalia began blocking fan accounts on Instagram. They eventually set their own Instagram accounts to “private.” To keep fans from taking it the wrong way, though, they clarified everything in an Instagram Story.
Via her Instagram Story on June 13, Vanessa wrote, “Thx so much for all the [love]. @nataliabryant and I have unfortunately had to block fan pages because it’s been really hard to go online and constantly see pics of our beloved Gigi and Kobe under every single square of our explore pages. Blocking the fan pages has helped change the algorithm.”
She finished, “We [love] you all but please understand that we had to do this for our own healing.” And she reminded fans that it’s “not because we don’t appreciate your [love].”
While Vanessa has had her own share of controversies, this statement about her need to heal and move on was mostly met with support and understanding.
NEXT: Natalia’s explanation
Making Things Worse
Vanessa wasn’t the only one to speak out via Instagram. Natalia posted her own Instagram Story, and it offered some additional insight into what was happening.
She starts off by thanking fans for their support and then mentions the need to block fan accounts “because they keep reposting our pics.” Natalia pointed out that seeing these images over and over whenever she’s on social media makes it worse. She said it’s now “10x harder to deal with our loss.”
Natalia wrapped things up with more gratitude and an interesting insight into what these fan pages can do to a person’s life. “We hope that people understand although these fan pages have good intentions, they make moving forward harder since they are constant reminders. Blocking the accounts have helped change the algorithm but we can not go public until the fan pages stop. We love all of your sweet intentions and we hope you understand.”
If you don’t spend all your time on Instagram, Natalia’s mention of “the algorithm” and her inability to “go public” may seem baffling. But for those in the know, it spells out that these fan accounts have put her and Vanessa into a kind of digital prison.
Without getting overly technical, the Instagram algorithm determines which pictures and posts you will see. With Vanessa and Natalia, the issue was that these fan accounts kept re-posting their own images. And that meant they were likely to get bombarded by unexpected images of the deceased whenever they logged in.
A cynical person might say that they could always put down the phone. But the truth is that we live in a digital world, and social media is a major part of that. While it was unintentional, these fan accounts ensured that Vanessa and Natalia would have to either become social media hermits or begin blocking fan accounts left and right.
A Public Grieving Process
Vanessa and Natalia Bryant were very public in their grief. Before the recent lockdown, each of them posted memorial tributes to Kobe and Gigi via Instagram. Vanessa has used social media to celebrate things like her anniversary with Kobe in April.
Perhaps the hardest thing of all was Vanessa giving a speech at Kobe’s public memorial service at the Staples Center. Preparing for the speech turned her into a bundle of nerves.
Making things perhaps even more nervewracking, in attendance were Kobe Bryant’s estranged parents, who famously did not want him to marry Vanessa.
However, Vanessa found the strength to speak, and she helped everyone around her mourn their mutual loss.
Long story short? These ladies don’t owe anything else to fans, and they’ve already given so much of their time and energy. Ultimately, it’s understandable that they took steps to avoid getting re-traumatized each day.