Vanessa Bryant, the wife of the late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, gave her first public statement Wednesday on the deaths of her husband, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash Sunday, posting a photo of the complete family with their four children.
“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,” Bryant wrote.
“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.”
Bryant went on to encourage supporters to donate to the Mamba Sports Foundation, which her husband co-founded and which counted their daughter as a participant.
“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 ❤️”
All nine aboard the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter Sunday were headed for the academy for a sports tournament. The chopper went down over Calabasas, Calif. and erupted into flames. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the crash.
Also among the dead: two of Gianna’s teenage teammates, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, along with three of their parents, as well as a basketball coach and the pilot.
Earlier Wednesday, Bryant changed her profile photo on Instagram to a photo of her husband and daughter embracing. She also unlocked her previously private account, giving the public access to dozens of photos of her family, though the comments were switched off.
Together the couple had four daughters — the late Gianna, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months. The two were married in 2001 when Vanessa was 18 and Kobe was 22.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.