Christina Mauser, who died in the same helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant on Sunday, was preparing to celebrate her daughter’s 4th birthday when her life was cut short.
Matt Mauser told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a heartbreaking Tuesday night interview that his daughter — who will turn 4 on Feb. 4 and should be readying to celebrate the occasion — is, instead, starting to process the grief associated with the loss of her mother.
“My little one, her birthday’s next week, that’s the hard part,” Mauser said. “I’m trying to navigate that. I’d walk in and she would call for mom …and now I walk in, she doesn’t call for her.”
“It’s bittersweet because I want her to still call for her mom,” he added. “I think she gets it, she knows we’re grieving.”
Mauser, who also has a 9-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter, also discussed his own grief, describing the days following his beloved wife’s death as a “roller-coaster ride.”
“I’m up, I’m down, I cry for no reason whatsoever, and then I’m okay,” he told Cooper. “I woke up this morning and I said, ‘I’m okay. I think I’m okay,’ and then I walked out and I started to cry. And then I saw my kids and I started to cry.”
However, Mauser added that knowing millions of people around the world were experiencing grief following the deadly crash — which killed nine people — right alongside him and his family was a source of comfort to him.
“I know a lot of people are hurting,” he said. “There are a lot of people that are in pain right now, and they may not have lost somebody that they loved like I did, but they’re still hurting.”
Mauser, who met Christina at a bar in Huntington Beach, Calif., went on to describe his wife’s natural proclivity for basketball. That talent is how she caught the eye of Kobe Bryant, who hand-picked her to teach defense to children attending his Mamba Sports Academy, including his daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant.
“Kobe had seen her skill,” the bereaved husband said. “Kobe was incredible at recognizing talent.”
In fact, Mauser remembered that one of the first dates he and his wife went on involved playing basketball in his front yard.
“I thought I was pretty good and I got on the driveway with her and I had never experienced anything like Christina,” he recalled. “She was quick, strong, powerful, she could dribble in, penetrate, come back and shoot, lay it up, hit from anywhere, a deadly three-pointer.”
“She was just a stud,” he said of his wife’s athletic ability, adding jokingly that, at first, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to date a girl who was better than him at basketball.
“And then I just fell in love with her, ” he said.
“She was kind, she was funny,” he added. “Our goal was to make each other laugh every day.”
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