Vanessa Bryant breaks silence on loss of Kobe Bryant and daughter Gigi

The family of Kobe and Gianna "Gigi" Bryant received heartbreaking news on Jan. 26, 2020, when they learned the pair had perished in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, Calif. alongside seven other people. Kobe, 41, and Gigi, 13, were reportedly on their way to a basketball game at the Lakers legend's Mamba Sports Academy when the chopper crashed into a hillside. Orange Coast College (OCC) baseball coach John Altobelli; his wife, Keri; their daughter, Alyssa; assistant girls basketball coach Christina Mauser; mother-daughter duo Sarah and Payton Chester; and pilot Ara Zobayan also died in the accident. 

Of course, we can't even begin to imagine what Vanessa Bryant — who married Kobe in 2001 — felt when she heard the tragic news. However, on Jan. 29, 2020, the mom-of-four broke her silence to shed some light on how she has been coping with this immeasurable loss.

Vanessa Bryant appreciates the support

Vanessa Bryant is under no obligation to share what she's feeling at the moment, but she was apparently moved to speak out thanks to the incredible support she has received from the world. "My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time," she captioned a photo of her gorgeous family, including Kobe and daughters Natalia, Gigi, Bianka, and Capri Bryant. "Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them." 

Vanessa, who admitted she's "completely devastated by the sudden loss," also took a moment to acknowledge the other families affected by the crash. "We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately." The California native directed fans to the MambaOnThree Fund, an effort that will "help support the other families affected by this tragedy." The fund was set up by the Mamba Sports Foundation.

Vanessa said she can't imagine what her family's life will look like "beyond today," though she takes "comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved." She concluded her message by vowing to "keep pushing" because Kobe and her "baby girl" Gigi are "shining" on them to "light the way." 

Vanessa Bryant prefaced her statement with a touching tribute

Shortly after the news broke that Kobe and Gianna Bryant had been killed in the helicopter crash along with seven others, Vanessa Bryant made her Instagram account private. A few hours before Vanessa broke her silence on the tragic accident, in addition to setting her account back to public, she also subtly paid tribute to the father-daughter duo.

Followers noticed that Vanessa changed her profile picture to a photo of her late husband and daughter embracing each other. Gigi, as she was affectionately known, has her hand on her father's shoulder as the NBA legend looks lovingly down at her. In light of the circumstances, the sweet father-daughter moment is absolutely heartbreaking. According to TMZ, the photograph was taken during the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto in 2016.

While Vanessa's statement seemingly encapsulated the range of emotions she's feeling during this very difficult time, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and her new profile photo certainly speaks volumes.

Vanessa Bryant isn't the only family member to pay tribute via social media

While Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram to mourn the loss of her husband and daughter, Kobe Bryant's sister, Sharia Washington, paid tribute to the beloved athlete and Gianna via Facebook on Jan. 27, 2020. 

Although it appears that her Facebook account has since been deleted, Washington initially updated her cover photo to a collage of photos featuring Bryant and Gianna. The ten photos in the collage showcased "her smiling NBA legend brother cradling some of his four daughters as babies and hugging her and their sister Shaya," per the New York Post. At the time of the post, Washington had also changed her profile picture to reflect her state of grief — replacing a photo with "just a circle of mourning black," the Post reported.

Members of the Bryant family aren't the only ones mourning their loved ones across social media. The husband of one of the other victims has also broken his silence.

Christina Mauser's husband spoke out following the helicopter crash

On the day of the heartbreaking helicopter crash, the husband of Christina Mauser, who was an assistant coach at the Mamba Sports Academy, spoke out about losing his wife. Matt Hauser, the lead vocalist for the rock band Tijuana Dogs, posted a tribute to his late wife on his Facebook account, writing, "My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much."

In a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper just days after the crash, Mauser talked about how he and his three young children have been coping. "The first day was brutal," he said. "I woke up this morning and I said, 'I'm OK,' and then I walked out and I started to cry. And then I saw my kids and I started to cry." 

Our thoughts are with all of the families involved during this difficult time.