January 30, 2020
Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, and the Lakers have spoken publicly for the first time since the death of Bryant and the couple's daughter Gianna.
Bryant, 41, and Gianna, 13, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, that killed seven other people onboard on Sunday. They were en route to a basketball tournament in Thousand Oaks, roughly 10 miles from the crash site.
The untimely loss has "completely devastated" Vanessa and the Bryants' three surviving daughters — Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months, she wrote in an Instagram post on Wednesday night. Bryant and Vanessa were married in 2001 and would have celebrated their 19th anniversary in April.
"I wish they were here with us forever," Vanessa wrote about Kobe and Gianna, who the family called Gigi. "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."
Read the entire Instagram post below:
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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 ❤️
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Vanessa announced that Mamba Sports Foundation — Bryant's nonprofit that promotes youth sports — has created the MambaOnThree fund to help the families of the other victims of the helicopter crash.
The other passengers included Gianna's teammate, Alyssa Altobelli and her parents John and Keri; another basketball teammate Payton Chester and her mother Sarah; Christina Mauser, an assistant basketball coach, and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.
A Tuesday game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers was postponed in order to allow the Lakers organization to grieve. The organization released its first statement late Wednesday. The Lakers are "forever changed" by Bryant and Gianna's passing.
"Words cannot express what Kobe means to the Los Angeles Lakers, our fans, and our city," the team said. "More than a basketball player, he was a beloved father, husband, and teammate. Their love and light will remain in our hearts forever."
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We are devastated and have been forever changed by the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. We send our love to Vanessa, the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers. Words cannot express what Kobe means to the Los Angeles Lakers, our fans, and our city. More than a basketball player, he was a beloved father, husband, and teammate. Their love and light will remain in our hearts forever. The Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to support the families affected by this tragedy. To help, please visit MambaOnThree.org. For those who are inspired to continue Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org.
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Since Bryant's death, an outpouring of tributes and remembrances have flooded the entire country in honor of the basketball star's legacy. Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neil spoke on the pain and grief both had experienced after finding out Bryant was killed. Several basketball teams — high school, college, and professional — honored the NBA great, including the Sixers heartfelt tribute to the nine victims.