Days after the helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant on January 26, Kobe’s wife Vanessa made her first personal statement since the accident in the form of a touching Instagram tribute to her late husband and daughter.
On January 29, three days after Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s shocking passing, Vanessa broke her social media silence by sharing a photo of herself, Kobe, and their four daughters with her 3.5 million Instagram followers. The photo showed Kobe, Vanessa, Natalia, 13-year-old Gianna, Bianka, and Capri in matching red and plaid outfits – a happy, close-knit family of six.
She began the heartbreaking caption by thanking “the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time.” On behalf of herself and her daughters, she said “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.”
Continuing, she said “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.”
She then opened up about the immense loss her family has faced and will continue to face, adding “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.” While thanking and acknowledging those who have expressed grief and shared support over the devastating and unexpected loss, she took the opportunity to ask for privacy for herself and her family as they “navigate this new reality.”
Vanessa Asked Supporters to Donate to the ‘MambaOnThree’ Fund
Vanessa concluded her Instagram post by asking supporters to consider donating to a fund set up specifically to help the other families impacted by the accident that claimed nine lives. John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Payton and Sarah Chester, and Ara Zobayan were killed in the crash, along with Kobe and Gianna Bryant.
She wrote “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.”
In addition, she asked that those interested in helping continue Kobe and Gianna’s legacy and honor their dedication to youth sports visit MambaSportsFoundation.org. Kobe founded Mamba Sports Academy to support promising young athletes in December 2018. Gianna played basketball for Team Mamba, and they were on their way to basketball practice when the helicopter crashed.
Before Sharing Her Tribute, Vanessa Made Her Instagram Photo a Picture of Kobe & Gianna
After the accident happened and news spread around the world of Kobe and Gianna’s passing, Vanessa’s Instagram profile was switched to private. A few hours before she posted her tribute and made her account public once again, fans noticed that she had changed her profile photo to one of Kobe and Gianna that started circulating among grieving supporters to help preserve the memory of the father and daughter’s close bond.
The photo, which shows Gianna reaching up to her father while he bends down, smiling, to hug her, was transformed into a black and white mural on a basketball court in Manila, Philippines, less than two days after their deaths.
Celebrities Were Quick to Comment Words of Love & Support Below Vanessa’s Post
Minutes after Vanessa shared her post on Instagram, millions of likes and hundreds of thousands of comments came pouring in. Ellen DeGeneres was among the many who sent strong messages. Earlier in the week, DeGeneres gave an emotional tribute to Kobe, Gianna, and the other passengers who lost their lives in the helicopter crash on The Ellen Show. Her comments went viral after she reminded everyone to celebrate life every single day.
Below Bryant’s heartfelt photo of her family, Alyssa Milano wrote “Dear Vanessa, I’m so deeply and profoundly sorry for your loss and heartache.” Mario Lopez commented “God Bless you & God Bless your girls & the two angels that will be watching over you until you reunite in Heaven. Familia Lopez is praying for you guys…” At a loss for words, many simply shared heart and prayer emojis in solidarity.