Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa Bryant, has broken her silence following the death of her husband their 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter outside Los Angeles. On Wednesday, Vanessa changed her Instagram profile picture to one of her late husband and daughter embracing. The move marked the first time she has publicly addressed the Sunday, Jan. 26 crash, which claimed the lives of all nine members aboard the aircraft.
Vanessa's new profile photo was snapped in 2016, the same year Bryant retired, before the first half of an NBA All-Star Game at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 14, 2016. She has also unlocked her previously private Instagram account, which boasts dozens of images of her and Bryant's four children as well as images of the NBA legend with his daughters, and disabled comments.
Bryant and Vanessa married in a Dana Point, California ceremony in April of 2001 after having first met in 1999 on the set of a music video when he was 21 and she was 17.
Along with Gianna, the couple also shared daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
On Sunday, Jan. 26, Bryant, Gianna, and six others were traveling aboard the NBA legend's Sikorsky S-76B helicopter en route to Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy for a basketball practice when the aircraft encountered dense fog and crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California just after 10 a.m. PT. There were no survivors.
As news of Bryant's death sent shockwaves throughout the globe, fans, celebrities, and Bryant's fellow NBA players took to social media to mourn the tragic loss of the NBA legend.
Bryant, 41, had entered the NBA as the 16th overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets and was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for veteran center Vlade Diva. He played 20 years with the Lakers before retiring in 2016 after playing 1,346 games. Known as one of the NBA's all-time greats, Bryant was named an NBA All-Star 18 times and was a member of five championship teams. His numbers, 8 and 24, were retired by the Lakers in 2017.
Gianna had hopes of following in her father's footsteps and had hoped to play college basketball at the University of Connecticut and one day make it to the WNBA. The University of Connecticut women's basketball team honored the 13-year-old shortly after her death by displaying a Huskies jersey with the number 2, Gianna's number at the Mamba Sports Academy, on a chair alongside a bouquet of flowers.
The other victims of the crash include pilot Ara Zobayan; Orange Coast College John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa; girls basketball coach Christina Mauser; and Sarah and Payton Chester.