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Vanessa Bryant speaks out for first time since Kobe and Gianna's deaths

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Vanessa Bryant has spoken out publicly for the first time since her husband, Kobe Bryant, and  daughter, Gianna, died in a tragic helicopter crash last week.Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, were also among those killed in the crash. Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach is also among those confirmed to have died.

Kobe and Gianna were reportedly on their way to Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball practice when the tragic incident took place. While tributes flooded in from around the world, Vanessa understandably stayed quiet.

But in an Instagram post last night, she addressed the deaths for the first time.

Vanessa wrote: "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."

Vanessa then went on to encourage fans to donate to charity.

"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."

She ended the post: "Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me."

Our thoughts and prayers are with Vanessa and the family at this difficult time.