In Vanessa Bryant’s first public remarks since the deaths of her husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, she thanked everyone for showering her and her family with support “during this horrific time.”
“There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now,” Bryant wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday evening, paired with a photo of her family. “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,” she went on. “I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them.”
Kobe and Gianna Bryant died unexpectedly when a helicopter they were in crashed in Calabasas, California, on Sunday, sending shock waves through Los Angeles and the sports community. Seven other people in the aircraft also died.
In her tribute, Vanessa Bryant paid her respects to the other victims of the crash. “We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately,” she wrote.
Kobe, a former player for the Los Angeles Lakers and a father of four girls, was 41. He and his wife had been married for 18 years.
Earlier Wednesday, Vanessa Bryant had updated her Instagram profile with a photo of Kobe and Gianna holding each other in a loving embrace.
Like her father, Gianna was a dedicated basketball player. Kobe coached his daughter’s team and shared videos and photos of Gianna playing ball on his own Instagram account.
Kobe told the Los Angeles Times last year that Gianna was “hell-bent” on playing for the University of Connecticut and, eventually, the WNBA.
Vanessa Bryant asked the public to grant her and her family “the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality.”
Hours after Vanessa Bryant shared her post, the Los Angeles Lakers released a statement about the devastating loss, sending their love to their former player’s wife and surviving children, Natalia, 17; Bianka, 3; and Capri, 8 months, as well as the families of the other passengers on the helicopter.
The team had not commented on the death except for a brief statement Monday, when they acknowledged the tragedy and announced that Tuesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers would be postponed.
“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,” read a message on the Los Angeles Lakers’ Twitter account Tuesday.
Echoing Vanessa Bryant, the team called for donations to the other families affected by the accident and highlighted Kobe Bryant’s legacy through youth sports at his Mamba Sports Foundation.
This article has been updated to include a statement from the Los Angeles Lakers.