It’s only been four days since Vanessa Bryant lost her beloved husband, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” in a tragic helicopter crash on Jan. 26. Now the 37-year-old is speaking out for the first time, saying her pain is immeasurable, but vowing to continue on knowing that Kobe and Gigi are “are shining on us to light the way.” She shared on her newly public Instagram a treasure family photo, of what looks like their last Christmas card pic together. The family is surrounded by pine trees and their four daughters are dressed in red. Vanessa then shared a lengthly, heartbreaking statement that you can read below.
Kobe, Gigi and seven others were killed when their helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas in foggy weather around 10am local time on Jan. 26. They were headed to his Mamba Sports Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks for Gigi’s basketball tournament, as Kobe was the coach of her team.
So many celebrities sent heartfelt messages to Vanessa, knowing her pain must be immeasurable losing both her beloved husband of nearly twenty years and her precious daughter. In her message, Vanessa called Kobe her “adoring husband — the amazing father of our children,” and “my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter.”
Vanessa and Kobe married in 2001, after he proposed to her when she was just a senior in high school. The couple announced their engagement at her 18th birthday party and they tied the knot shortly after at a Dana Point Catholic Church in Orange County in April 2001. The couple welcomed their oldest daughter Natalia Diamante, on Jan. 19, 2003, who is now 17. They went on to have three more daughters, the late Gianna,, then later Bianka Bella, 3, and Capri, just 7-months-old. Kobe and Gigi had a particularly close bond over their shared love of basketball.
Funeral plans have not been announced yet, but the possibility of a public memorial at Staples Center — where Kobe played as a Laker — as been mentioned. But there are so many people in Laker Nation and beyond mourning Kobe that a bigger venue, like the L.A. Coliseum and its 78,000 plus capacity, has been floated as a location for a public memorial.