Vanessa Bryant: ‘We are completely devastated’

In her first public comments since the death of her husband, Kobe, and daughter Gianna on Sunday, Vanessa Bryant thanked the millions of fans who have shown support during what she called a “horrific” time.

She also announced the formation of a fund to help support the other families that were affected by the crash.

“There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now,” Bryant wrote in an Instagram post accompanied by a picture of the entire 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.”

Kobe and Gianna, 13, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday. They were among nine victims in the crash, which remains under investigation.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant married in 2001, and they had four daughters together. Their oldest, Natalia, is 17, and their youngest, Capri, is 7 months old. They also have a 3-year-old, Bianka.

“I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them,” Vanessa Bryant said as part of the post. “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.”

Kobe Bryant was on his way to a youth basketball game with Gianna when the helicopter crashed. Gianna was a budding basketball star and played at her dad’s Mamba Sports Academy, where he also coached her.

The other victims of the crash were identified as pilot Ara Zobayan, John Altobelli and Sarah Chester, the medical examiner reported Tuesday. The names of the five other victims have not been released, but they have been publicly identified as Chester’s 13-year-old daughter, Payton; Altobelli’s wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa; and Christina Mauser, Kobe Bryant’s assistant coach with the Mambas girls’ basketball team.

“We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately,” Vanessa Bryant wrote.

The Mamba Sports Academy also posted a statement to Twitter on Wednesday that read, in part: “Kobe Bryant was so much more than a partner in Mamba Sports Academy. He was a caring father, husband, coach, and champion of youth sports. We mourn not only one of the greatest athletes of all time, but an active and engaged member of our community, and a visionary whose impact was only beginning to be felt by society. He will be remembered most for the care he placed and pleasure he took in educating the next generation, none more so than Gianna, Alyssa, Payton and their Mamba teammates.

“Through the shared values of attention to detail, relentless pursuit of passions, and dedication to excellence, we remain committed to honoring Kobe’s mission of inspiring the next generation of leaders in the world of sports and beyond.”

Vanessa Bryant closed her post by expressing thanks “for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me,” while including the hashtags #Mamba, #Mambacita, #GirlsDad, #DaddysGirls and #Family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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