Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Southern California on Sunday, according to the local medical examiner’s office.
Molly Carter, president of Kobe Inc., stated that “unnamed sources and blind quotes” coming from the media following their deaths are not being provided by their family members.
“To this point, no one has been authorized to speak on behalf of the family regarding any personal details surrounding Sunday’s tragedy, including stories related to the family’s previous air travel decisions,” Carter said, reported CNN. “We ask members of the media for respect and responsible judgment during this difficult time. These inaccurate reports only add unnecessary pain to a grieving family.”
Earlier this week, Rick Fox, a former Los Angeles Lakers player and teammate of Bryant, said that his family was shaken after false reports were spread that claimed he also died in the helicopter crash.
Fox told TNT’s “Inside the NBA” that he had received a phone call on Sunday, when Bryant died, from someone who “just was bawling … And I started crying and he was like, ‘You’re alive.’ And I’m thinking, well yeah, what do you mean? And it was in that moment that my phone just started going and my mom and my sister and my brother [all called].”
Those rumors, he added, “shook a lot of people in my life.”
It prompted a family member of Fox to write on Twitter that he was still alive, contrary to the rumors.
“To confirm my stepdad Rick Fox is ALIVE and safe! I just got off the phone with my sister. We are all in shock and deeply saddened but please don’t spread false news,” she wrote on Sunday.
On Instagram, Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa broke her silence and issued a lengthy statement asking fans for privacy but also appreciated the outpouring of support.
“Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them,” she posted on Instagram. “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.”
Bryant added that she is “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,” adding that she takes “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.”
The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed the identities of the nine victims of the helicopter crash.
The office confirmed that Gianna Bryant, 13; Kobe Bryant, 41; baseball coach John Altobelli, 56; his wife Keri Altobelli, 46; their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Sarah Chester, 45; her daughter Payton Chester, 13; Bryant’s assistant coach Christina Mauser, 38; and 50-year-old pilot Ara Zobayan died in the crash. Their identities were confirmed via their fingerprints.
“Furthermore, on Tuesday body examinations were performed on all nine decedents. Their causes of death were certified as blunt trauma. The manner of death was certified as accident,” the examiner’s office wrote.