Kendra Wilkinson Speaks out About Hugh Hefner's Death

Kendra Wilkinson has broken her silence following the death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

"Hef changed my life," the Playboy model, 32, told the Associated Press in a statement. "He made me the person I am today. I couldn't be more thankful for our friendship and our time together. I will miss him so much but he will be in my heart forever."

In April, the Girls Next Door alum shared a sweet Instagram post dedicated to Hefner on his 91st birthday. "Happy birthday Hef!!" she wrote at the time. "Thank you for EVERYTHING. People might not understand you but that's because they've never had the chance to know you like I do. I'll celebrate you forever!!!"

Fans will know that Wilkinson appeared on The Girls Next Door alongside Hefner, Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt. The reality series ran for six seasons from 2005 to 2010.

Marquardt spoke out about Hefner's death early Thursday morning on Twitter. "So sad but forever grateful for all the wonderful memories and amazing experiences," she wrote. She was the first of the reality show trio to speak on his passing.

Hefner died on Wednesday at the age of 91 at his Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles from natural causes, Playboy confirmed to E! News.

The mansion, a party central for Hollywood's elites throughout the years, was sold in August with a stipulation that allowed Hefner to live there until he died.

Hefner was born to strict Methodist parents in 1926. He served two years in the Army during World War II before starting his career as a copywriter for Esquire.

After saving $8,000, Hefner published the first issue of Playboy in 1953 with an old nude photo of Marilyn Monroe on the cover. That issue sold over 50,000 copies and his publishing house was born.

Hefner is survived by his wife, Crystal, and four children: Christie, who served as CEO of Playboy Enterprise for more than 20 years, David, Marston and Cooper, who is currently Playboy’s Chief Creative Officer.

Photo Credit: Instagram / @kendra_wilkinson_baskett