Kobe Bryant’s two sisters have opened up about the loss of their brother and their niece, Gianna and along with seven others killed in the tragic helicopter crash.
Sharia Washington and Shaya Tabb released their first public statement since the fatal incident on Friday, saying they are “in grieving” along with Bryant’s widow Vanessa, 37, and his daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
“On behalf of our family, we join Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka and Capri in grieving the loss of Kobe and Gianna in such a tragic accident,” Sharia Washington and Shaya Tabb told iOne Digital in an exclusive statement. “We are devastated by the loss of our brother, son, our niece and granddaughter, and our hearts go out to all the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday. Our lives are forever changed.”
A few days earlier Sharia also shared a collection of photos on her Facebook page showing the sisters children enjoying special moments with Gianna and Kobe. It was apparent that Bryant and his children were close with his sisters despite his estranged relationship with his parents Joe & Pamela Bryant.
As previously reported Bryant, 41, and Gianna were on their way to a youth basketball game in at his Mamba Sports Academy when their helicopter crashed amid foggy conditions on a hill in Calabasas. The two died alongside pilot Ara Zobayan, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli.
The family statement follows an emotional message Vanessa had shared on Instagram on Wednesday, in which she told fans she’s “devastated” over the loss of her “adoring” husband and their “beautiful, sweet” daughter Gianna.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
In her statement, Vanessa also announced that the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up a charity for the seven other victims of the helicopter crash.
“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,” she wrote. “To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org.”
View this post on Instagram
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 ❤️
A spokeswoman for Kobe Inc, also released a statement asking the public and media for privacy for the family.
The “unnamed sources and blind quotes” cited by the media following their deaths are not coming from the family, Molly Carter, president of Kobe Inc., said in a statement delivered to news outlets. “To this point, no one has been authorized to speak on behalf of the family regarding any personal details surrounding Sunday’s tragedy, including stories related to the family’s previous air travel decisions,” Carter said. “We ask members of the media for respect and responsible judgment during this difficult time. These inaccurate reports only add unnecessary pain to a grieving family.”
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