In 1st Statement Since Kobe and Gianna’s Deaths, Vanessa Bryant Announces Fund for Other Victims

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Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant shared a heartfelt message on Instagram Wednesday, in her first public comment following the unexpected death of her NBA legend husband, their daughter Gianna and seven others.

“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time,” Bryant wrote below a picture of the family of six. “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.”

Kobe and Gianna died in a helicopter crash Sunday, along with seven others, including Ara Zobayan, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Christina Mauser. They were on their way to a basketball game that Bryant was supposed to be coach and Gianna was set to play in.

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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 ❤️

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant 🦋 (@vanessabryant) on

In her Instagram post, Bryant announced that the Mamba Sports Foundation launched the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by the tragedy. The fund was created to honor Team Mamba’s mantra, “Mamba on Three” — symbolizing togetherness, sisterhood and the ability to take on every challenge, according to the fund’s website.

“I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved,” Bryant wrote. “I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon.”

After the crash, Bryant made her Instagram page private, but it was made public again on Wednesday, with a new profile image of Kobe and Gianna embracing.

“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 wrote. “I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”

Bryant thanked fans for sharing in her family’s grief and asked that their privacy be respected while they “navigate this new reality.”

The official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Lakers also released a statement Wednesday, sharing their devastation over Kobe and Gianna’s deaths.

“Words cannot express what Kobe means to the Los Angeles Lakers, our fans, and our city,” they said.

The Lakers had previously not released any public statements, other than a notice that they were rescheduling a game between the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers that was set to take place Tuesday.

 

To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, Bryant asked that people visit the Mamba Sports Academy website.

She used the hashtag #GirlsDad, which spread online after ESPN’s Elle Duncan shared a moving story while she anchored “SportsCenter” on Monday about how proud Kobe was of being a father to his four daughters.

“I would have five more girls if I could,” Duncan recalled him saying. “I’m a girl dad.”

The hashtag began trending after fathers started posting pictures of themselves with their daughters using #GirlDad as a way of remembering the basketball legend.

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant married in 2001 and had four daughters together.

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