Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, has made her first comments since the helicopter crash that killed the basketball star, one of their daughters and seven others last Sunday.
In a post on Instagram with a family photo, she said she was “completely devastated” and that there were not “enough words to describe our pain”.
The couple had four daughters including Gianna, 13, who died in the crash.
There has been no word yet on funeral arrangements.
The cause of the crash in foggy weather west of Los Angeles is still being investigated. Bryant was on his way to coach his daughter’s basketball team in a local youth tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy.
In her post, Vanessa also said: “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 added: “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.”
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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 ❤️
She also thanked people for their support, and announced the formation of a fund to help support the other families that were affected by the crash, the Mamba Sports Foundation.
The other victims included the pilot, two other 13-year-old girls involved in the tournament, three of their parents and another coach.
Bryant was a five-time NBA champion for his only team, the Los Angeles Lakers, and a double Olympic gold medallist. After a 20-year career with the team he retired in April 2016.
On Wednesday, the Lakers added to the tributes, describing Bryant as “more than a basketball player”.
“We are devastated and have been forever changed by the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” the Lakers said in a statement posted to Instagram.
“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.”