Vanessa Bryant posted a recent family portrait of herself with Kobe and their four daughters, Gianna, Natalia, Bianka and Capri, and issued a heartfelt statement to say that the family are “absolutely devastated” by Sunday’s tragic events.
"My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time," Vanessa Bryant wrote on her Instagram account.
"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 and his daughter died on Sunday after the helicopter carrying them and seven others crashed near Calabasas, around 40km northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The aircraft was travelling to the Mamba Sports Academy for a girls basketball tournament that Gianna was due to compete in, but heavy fog resulted in the helicopter experiencing trouble and plummeting from around 2,300ft into the hillside where it burst into flames on impact.
The pilot and six more passengers were also killed – two other 13-year-old girls involved in the tournament, three of their parents and another coach. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
"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,” Vanessa Bryant added.
"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."
Vanessa Bryant also used her message to ask fans who want to "further Kobe and Gianna's legacy in youth sports" to visit the site MambaSports Foundation.
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