Vanessa Bryant has released her first public statement after the deaths of her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna.
She has not spoken publicly since their deaths in a helicopter crash that killed seven other people Sunday morning in Southern California.
Taking to Instagram on Wednesday (Jan. 30), the NBA legend's widow thanked well-wishers in a statement on Instagram.
“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. 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,” the statement read beside a family photograph.
The 41-year-old retired NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other people were killed on Sunday (Jan. 26) when the helicopter they were in crashed on a hillside in Calabasas, California, northwest of Los Angeles.
Vanessa Bryant continued by sending her condolences to the families of the other seven victims. The post goes on to say that the Bryant family appreciates the thoughts and prayers from around the world, but would like privacy as they continue to grieve.
In the statement, Vanessa Bryant revealed they've set up the “MambaOnThree” fund to benefit the families of the other victims in the helicopter crash.
She also said that MambaSportsFoundation.org will continue to honor Kobe and Gianna's legacy in youth sports.
Here is Vanessa Bryant's full Instagram post on Kobe and Gianna's deaths:
“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. 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.
We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately.
There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now. 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.
Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality.
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.
To further Kobe and Gianna's legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org.
Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba #Mambacita #GirlsDad #DaddysGirls #Family ❤️”
Earlier on Wednesday, Vanessa Bryant changed her profile photo to an image of the Los Angeles Lakers legend hugging a young Gianna before his last All-Star Game in Toronto in 2016. Vanessa Bryant had made her Instagram page private after the crash. On Wednesday, it was public again with the new profile image and she gained almost 2 million followers.
Vanessa and Kobe Bryant married in 2001. They would have celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary on April 18.