The wife of late NBA star Kobe Bryant has broken her silence after the helicopter carrying him and their 13-year-old daughter crashed earlier this week, killing everyone on board.
Vanessa Bryant wrote on Instagram to thank fans for their 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 wrote 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 post added that she hopes people give them respect and privacy while they grieve.
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“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,” she said.
Bryant’s Mamba Sports Foundation set up the MambaOnThree Fund in order to “help support the other families affected by this tragedy,” she added.
The owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, for which Bryant played until 2016, issued a statement on Thursday after his death.
“Kobe, I don’t know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers. My father loved you like a son, which makes us family. When you invited me to lunch shortly after my father passed away, I was struggling to find motivation and purpose. Kobe, you brought Gianna with you to spend some time with me. You explained that you wanted to show her that women can be leaders in the NBA, just like the men. At first, it seemed like an action of a devoted father setting an example for his daughter. But in actuality—and I am positively sure you knew EXACTLY what you were doing—what you did was give me the inspiration and strength I was searching for. I reflect on that day often and it makes me smile and it makes me strong. I call on that memory whenever I feel down and need a bit of courage,” owner Jeanie Buss wrote on Instagram.
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed the identities of all nine victims of the crash, including Bryant and his daughter.
It 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, CNN reported, adding that their identities were confirmed via their fingerprints.
National Transportation Safety Board official Jennifer Homendy said that the helicopter missed a hill in Calabasas, California, by only about 30 feet.
“The descent rate for the helicopter was over 2,000 feet a minute,” Homendy said. “This is a pretty steep descent at high speed.”