Kobe Bryant would've turned 44 on Tuesday ... and his wife, Vanessa, penned a heartfelt birthday note on Instagram, writing she loves and misses him so much.
"Happy birthday, baby!" she captioned the Instagram post. "I love you and miss you so much! #44.
Vanessa Bryant told that court that "I live in fear every day of being on social media and having these photos pop up."
While taking the stand on Aug. 19, Vanessa said she now lives in fear every day because she never wants her daughters to see the gruesome photos. "All you want to do," she shared, "is protect your babies."
You can see Bryant -- wearing his 2009 NBA championship shirt and hat -- hugging Vanessa post-game ... and they were both all smiles.