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'Beautiful blessings taken too soon' | Vanessa Bryant makes statement on Kobe and Gianna

Kobe Bryant's widow has publicly acknowledged their deaths for the first time, changing her Instagram picture to an image of them and posting a family photo.

WASHINGTON — Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Kobe Bryant, 41, has publicly recognized the deaths of her husband and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna for the first time, switching her Instagram profile picture to a photo of her two lost loved ones and posting another picture of the whole family.

She has not spoken publicly since their deaths in a helicopter crash that killed seven other people Sunday morning in Southern California. But on Wednesday she posted a family photo with her first comments since saying in part, "I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon."

Bryant also changed her profile photo to an image of the Los Angeles Lakers legend hugging a young Gianna before his last All-Star Game in Toronto in 2016.

The 18-time All-Star retired that year after 20 seasons in the NBA, all with the Lakers.

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Laine Bryant attend the 2018 Baby2Baby Gala on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The crash near Los Angeles in Calabasas also killed John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan.

Vanessa Bryant had made her Instagram private before changing it back to public on Wednesday with the new profile picture, news outlets reported.

Her new profile photo shows Gianna looking up at her dad as they smile and hug.

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant got married in 2001 and have four daughters Natalia, 17; Bianka, 3; Capri, 7 months; and the late Gianna.

Vanessa Bryant posted a photo last month of Kobe and Gianna together at a game.

Here's her full post on their deaths: 

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.

The Lakers sent out a series of tweets late Wednesday night supporting Vanessa and the Bryant family and announcing a fund for the families of the crash victims.