Kobe Bryant’s wife of nearly 20 years broke her silence Wednesday on the death of her husband and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in a heartbreaking Instagram post.
The basketball star, 41, and his daughter died Sunday in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles that killed seven other people as they were on their way to a basketball tournament in Thousand Oaks, California. Vanessa Bryant said she and her three surviving daughters have been “completely devastated.”
“There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now,” she wrote on Instagram. “I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply
Vanessa and Kobe Bryant married in 2001 and would have celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary in April.
She described the basketball legend as an adoring husband and father and called Gianna “a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter” and an amazing sister to their three other daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri.
“I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them,” she said. “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.”
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people were killed when the Sikorsky S-76 slammed into a rugged hillside in thick fog in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles. The helicopter was headed to Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, where his daughter was set to play a basketball game.
Meanwhile, federal investigators completed their inspection of the crash site and handed it over to local authorities.
Police on horseback and all-terrain vehicles were brought in to secure the area, which was becoming a pilgrimage point for fans.
The Los Angeles County Coroner said on Tuesday that four of the crash victims – Bryant, pilot Ara Zobayan, baseball coach John Altobelli and Sarah Chester – had been officially identified through fingerprints.
The coroner’s office was still working to formally identify the five remaining passengers: Gianna Bryant, her Mamba Academy teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, Alyssa’s mother Keri Altobelli and assistant Mamba Academy coach Christina Mauser.
A preliminary, fact-based report on the accident is expected in 10 days, according to Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). But a final report on the probable cause of the accident, described as a “high energy impact crash,” will not be issued for 12-18 months.