celebrity

"I wish they were here with us forever." Vanessa Bryant on Kobe and Gigi's sudden death.

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.

 

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“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.

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“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. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality.”

On January 26, the NBA legend and his daughter were among nine people confirmed dead in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

Bryant family
The Bryant family in May last year. Image: Instagram/kobebryant.

Vanessa is, unsurprisingly, "devastated", as she now contemplates life as a widowed mother of three children: Natalia Diamante, 17, Bianka Bella, 3, and Capri Kobe, less than one year old.

"She can hardly keep it together," an insider has told People Magazine.

"She can’t finish a sentence without crying. But she is working very hard to pull it together for the other girls. She now has to be the strong one."

The insider continues: "Of course, you can never be prepared for this. Despite their ups and downs, [Vanessa and Kobe] were soulmates. She thought of him as her partner for life."

The public couple occasionally made headlines over the years for their marriage struggles - including a file for divorce in 2011, which was later retracted. After Kobe retired in 2016, their marriage seemed to be in a great place, with the basketball player posting a loving tribute to his wife in November, just eight weeks before his death.

"On this day 20 years ago I met my best friend, my Queen @vanessabryant I decided to take her on a date to Disneyland tonight to celebrate old school style. I love you my mamacita per sempre," he said on Instagram, where he had nearly 20 million followers.

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It has also been revealed that Kobe and Vanessa had a pact, in which they promised each other they would never fly in the same helicopter, to ensure that if a tragedy happened, one would be able to look after their children.

As for the other members of Kobe's family, no one, other than Vanessa, has made a public comment.

Wayne Slappy, former coach of the NBA great and best friend of Kobe's dad, Joe Bryant, has told Daily Mail the family has been left feeling void.

"Can you imagine a black hole? It's empty, how do you fill it? They're a close-knit family. He was 41 years old, and then his daughter dies in an accident with him too," Slappy said.

"His family are going to miss him more than you can begin to imagine."

Talking of the moment he was told of the death, the family friend said: "I started getting phone call after phone call. I tried to call Jellybean [Kobe's father], he didn't answer, and that doesn't happen. I just sat in the parking lot at Costco crying for an hour".

As the world publicly grieves the loss of the nine victims of the helicopter crash, the family's private mourning is only just beginning.

For more, read:

Feature image: Instagram/Getty.


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