When Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi Bryant, along with Payton Chester, 13; Sarah Chester, 45; Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and the helicopter's pilot, Ara Zobayan, 50, passed away in a tragic helicopter accident. The world immediately mourned for Vanessa Bryant, who in a moment lost her husband and her daughter. It's an unthinkable tragedy, but unfortunately due to Kobe's incredible fame, all eyes were going to be on her.
Three days after the accident, Vanessa addressed the public via an Instagram post. Her words were warm and heartfelt, and she used her platform to start a foundation to honor her lost loved ones and support the families of those who also lost someone in the crash.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org.To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org.Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba#Mambacita#GirlsDad#DaddysGirls#Family ❤️
After the crash, fans poured out to the Staples Center, where the Lakers play, and left an incredible display of respect for the late basketball player in the form of basketballs, shirts, flowers, art, and letters. Vanessa requested that some of the items fans have left at the Staples Center in memory of Kobe and Gigi be sent to her family. Lee Zeidman, the president of Staples Center, said that unfortunately they have to dismantle the shrine that's been left, but they will ship whatever they can to Vanessa and her daughters.
“It will have been a week. We have contractually obligated events that are moving in,” he said. “Vanessa had reached out to us and said, ‘Our family would like the items out there.’ So we’re going to catalog every one of them. By that I mean, T-shirts, letters, basketballs, stuffed animals, toys. We’re going to put those in specially made containers and we’re going to ship them to the family.”
Vanessa has been posting sweet tributes to Kobe and Gigi since their deaths, including footage from Gigi's jersey retirement at her school.
Vanessa also shared a beautiful video of their youngest daughter, Capri, saying she saw both Gigi and Kobe in her.
Vanessa and Kobe Bryant were together for 20 years, and shared four daughters together: Gianna, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.
I pray that Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and sweet tiny Capri are able to heal from this heartbreaking tragedy, and I also pray that the other families who lost loved ones are able to find peace.