It started with a touching gesture of changing her profile picture to a loving photo of her late husband and 13-year-old daughter.
Hours later, Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Kobe Bryant, posted a loving tribute on Instagram to make her first public statement since the tragedy.
“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time,” Bryant wrote. “Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them.”
Bryant, who’s been married to the NBA superstar since 2001, posted the heartfelt message alongside a photo of herself with Kobe and their four beautiful daughters, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, and Capri.
“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,” Bryant wrote. “We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately.”
Vanessa respectfully referred to the other passengers John Altobelli, Wife Keri and Daughter Alyssa, Sarah Chester and Daughter Payton Chester, and pilot Ara Zobayan and reminded her followers to be mindful of their families’ grief as well.
Ending her heartfelt post, Bryant announced that the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up a fund to help support the other families affected by the tragedy, called the “MambaOnThree Fund.”
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Lakers owner Jeanie Buss also broke her silence on the immense loss felt after Bryant’s death, saying it was like losing a family member.
“Kobe, I don’t know how to express what you mean to me, my family, and the Los Angeles Lakers,” Buss wrote … “My father loved you like a son, which makes us family.”
Buss also talked about a lunch date she had with Bryant and his daughter Gianna in 2013, shortly after her father Jerry Buss passed away.
“I was struggling to find motivation and purpose,” Buss revealed.
“Kobe, you brought Gianna with you to spend some time with me. You explained that you wanted to show her that women can be leaders in the NBA, just like the men.”
Buss shared that what initially felt like the actions of a devoted father setting an example for his daughter actually helped her motivate herself, something she believes Bryant carefully designed.
“I am positively sure you knew EXACTLY what you were doing — what you did was give me the inspiration and strength I was searching for. I reflect on that day often, and it makes me smile, and it makes me strong.”
Buss continued… “I call on that memory whenever I feel down and need a bit of courage. For everything you did on the court that filled me with so much joy and love, for all the lives you changed through basketball itself, it was that day with Gigi that reignited my drive and determination.”
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