Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa breaks silence following death of husband and daughter

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa broke her silence about the death of her husband and daughter on Instagram on Wednesday night.

The late basketball player, who married Vanessa in 2001, and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna were tragically killed in a helicopter crash along with seven others on Sunday.

On Wednesday night, Vanessa updated her profile picture on Instagram to a snap of Kobe and Gianna and later posted a picture of the whole Bryant family - including daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, three, and Capri, seven months - alongside a lengthy statement in which she thanked everyone for their support.

"My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them," she began.

"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. We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately."

Admitting she "takes comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved", Vanessa continued to add there "aren't enough words to describe our pain right now".

"I'm not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it's impossible to imagine life without them," she wrote. "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.

"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."

Vanessa also used the post to announce the launch of the MambaOnThree Fund, a part of the Kobe's youth sports charity, the Mamba Sports Foundation, to help support the families of those killed in the crash.

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