Kobe and Vanessa Bryant married in 2001, when he was 22 and she was 18-years-old.
“We have actually grown up together,” Kobe said on their wedding anniversary in 2013.
Now, 19 years after their wedding, Vanessa is grappling with the loss of her husband and one of their four daughters, 13-year-old Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant.
On Thursday afternoon, Vanessa released a statement on Instagram, thanking the public for their love and support.
View this post on Instagram
“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time,” the 37-year-old wrote on Instagram.
“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,” she continued.
“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,” the mother of four added.
“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.