Vanessa Bryant has released her first public statement since the death of husband Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant.
The heartbroken widow and mother of three surviving daughters posted the message on Instagram, accompanied by a family photo.
“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time,” she wrote. “Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them.”
She continued (in part):
“We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.
“…I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon.”
“…I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”
Vanessa expressed her condolences to the families of the other seven victims in the helicopter crash as well.
“We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately,” she wrote.
Vanessa also announced the Mamba Sports Foundation has established a fund to help the family of the victims.
“To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org.”
Earlier in the day, Vanessa changed her Instagram profile photo to a touching image of Kobe and Gianna sharing a warm embrace. The photo was taken during the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto in 2016.
Kobe, Gigi, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash on Sunday (Jan. 26) in Calabasas, California. They were headed to Gigi’s basketball team’s tournament at Kobe’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks.