By Sydney Bucksbaum
January 29, 2020 at 08:44 PM EST
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Vanessa Bryant is speaking out for the first time since the death of her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their daughter Gianna.

On Wednesday, Vanessa shared an emotional tribute on Instagram to the L.A. Lakers legend and Gianna, who both died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

“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,” Vanessa writes in the caption along with a photo of the Bryant family. “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,” Vanessa continues. “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.”

Vanessa goes on to say that while she’s “not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them… 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,” she says. “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.”

In her Instagram post, Vanessa also reveals that the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the “MambaOnThree Fund” to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. Anyone can donate at MambaOnThree.org.

The retired basketball superstar and Oscar winner was one of nine people who died in the Jan. 26 helicopter crash in the city of Calabasas in Los Angeles County, just before 10 a.m. PT. It later emerged that his daughter Gianna was also on board. Along with Kobe and Gianna on the helicopter were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa, girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, and pilot Ara Zobayan. Investigators are still investigating to determine the cause of the crash.

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