Vanessa Bryant spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since her husband Kobe and 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant died in a horrific helicopter crash Sunday morning.
“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,” Bryant wrote in a long caption accompanying a family portrait.
“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 continued.
Bryant hadn’t made any public comments since Kobe, 41, and her daughter died along with seven others in a helicopter crash over Calabasas, Calif. They were headed to a girls basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy, where Kobe was expected to coach his daughter and two other girls on the flight.
Earlier Wednesday morning, Vanessa changed her Instagram profile picture to an image of Kobe and Gigi embracing, a basketball tucked under Kobe’s elbow.
“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,” wrote Vanessa. “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 also brought attention to the other seven victims of Sunday’s crash, directing followers to a fund created to support other families whose loved ones died in the crash: John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter Alyssa Altobelli; girls’ basketball coach Christina Mauser; Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton Chester; and pilot Ara Zobayan.
Vanessa and Kobe met in 1999—three years into what would be a 20-year career in the NBA for Kobe. They married two years later, having four daughters together. Their youngest daughter, Capri, was born just last year.
“I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them,” Vanessa wrote. “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.”