MANILA, Philippines – Vanessa Bryant said her family is “completely devastated” over the death of her husband and NBA legend Kobe and daughter Gianna, saying “there aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now.”
In her first public comment since Kobe, Gianna and 7 others died in a helicopter crash, Vanessa also grieved for the other families who lost their loved ones and thanked “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,” she wrote.
Vanessa, who married Kobe in 2001 when she was still a teenager, also thanked everyone for the outpouring of love and support worldwide in an Instagram post on Wednesday, January 29 (Thursday, January 30, Philippine time), 3 days after the fatal crash.
“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,” she said.
Los Angeles authorities recovered on Tuesday the remains of all 9 who died in the crash. (READ: All 9 bodies recovered from Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site)
Kobe’s body was officially identified along with 3 others using fingerprints, but Gianna’s has yet to be identified. (READ: Kobe Bryant’s body identified by coroners)
To support the families of the other victims, Vanessa said the Mamba Sports Foundation also set up the MambaOnThree Fund.
Vanessa and Kobe met on the set of a video shoot for which she was modeling. She was 17 and a senior in high school at the time.
They were engaged in 2001 before getting married 6 months later. They had 4 daughters together. The oldest Natalia is 17 while Bianka is 3 years old and Capri just 7 months.
Kobe’s parents didn’t attend the wedding, partly because Kobe’s father was uncomfortable with Vanessa being Latino instead of African-American.
In 2003, Kobe was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman at a Colorado hotel. Vanessa attended a news conference at Staples Center arena in Los Angeles and sat next to Kobe as he professed his love to her.
“I love my wife with all my heart. She’s my backbone,” Kobe said from the podium.
Kobe admitted in front of her to being unfaithful but denied sexual assault. The case was eventually dismissed after the accuser dropped the charges.
“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,” said Vanessa.
“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.”
– With a report from Agence France-Presse