Kobe Bryant's sisters Sharia Washington and Shaya Tabb spoke out for the first time since their brother's death in a helicopter crash on Sunday. The Los Angeles Lakers star and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant were among the nine victims. The sisters thanked fans for reaching out, adding that their lives are "forever changed" by the tragedy.
"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," Washington and Tabb said in a joint statement to NewsOne Friday. "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. Thank you for your prayers, the numerous calls, texts, emails and cards."
The two also encouraged fans to make donations to MamabaOnThree.org to support the families of the crash victims and MamaSportsFoundation.org to "honor Kobe and Gianna's legacy."
Tabb and Washington also shared several never-before-seen family photos, including a photo with parents Joe and Pamela Bryant at Tabb's wedding.
Bryant's parents have not commented on their son's death yet. However, Kobe Inc. President Molly Carter released a statement denouncing reports using unnamed sources.
"We are disappointed in some media's broad use of unnamed sources and blind quotes, and remind everyone that the Bryant family will speak on our own behalf when appropriate," Carter told The Los Angeles Times. "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."
"We ask members of the media for respect and responsible judgment during this difficult time," Carter continued. "These inaccurate reports only add unnecessary pain to a grieving family."
On Wednesday, Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, broke her silence with a lengthy statement on Instagram. She also shared a photo of herself with Bryant and their four children.
"My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time," Vanessa wrote. "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 were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives," Vanessa wrote. "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."
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