LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night issued their first official statement since the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas Sunday morning.
“We are devastated and have been forever changed by the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” the statement read.
The statement, which was posted to Instagram, included a photo of Kobe and 13-year-old Gianna.
“We send our love to Vanessa, the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers,” it went on. “Words cannot express what Kobe means to the Los Angeles Lakers, our fans, and our city. More than a basketball player, he was a beloved father, husband, and teammate. Their love and light will remain in our hearts forever.”
The statement also went on to mention that Kobe’s Mamba Sports Foundation had established a fund to support the families of the victims.
“The Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to support the families affected by this tragedy. To help, please visit MambaOnThree.org. For those who are inspired to continue Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org.”
On Wednesday morning, the Lakers held their first full practice at their El Segundo facility since the tragedy.
The Lakers are scheduled to play their first game since Bryant’s death on Friday, but on Thursday night, the Los Angeles Clippers held a 24-second moment of silence before their game, as tributes continued to pour in from celebrities and athletes alike.
Head coach Frank Vogel told reporters that coping with Kobe’s death has “just strengthened what we’ve felt all year about our current group, which is we’ve become a family in a very short time.”
At around 9:45 a.m. on Jan. 26, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter carrying Kobe, Gianna, two other teen girls and four parents crashed in Calabasas amid foggy conditions.
The helicopter had departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County and was bound for Camarillo, with the passengers on board heading to the 41-year-old Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, where he was set to coach Gianna in a tournament game.