Los Angeles Lakers majority owner Jeanie Buss broke her silence on Thursday about the tragic death of franchise icon Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash.
"Kobe, I can't express what you mean for me, my family, and the Los Angeles Lakers," Buss wrote in a post in which he took a photo of a grinning Bryant, Buss, and his family en route to the NBA All-Star Game 2016 in Toronto.
"My father [late Lakers owner Jerry Buss] loved you like a son who makes us a family, ”Buss continued.
She continued to remember how Bryant, 41, and the second of his four daughters – 13-year-old Gianna, who was also killed in a Sunday accident in the southern California hills, supported her after her father's death in 2013.
"When you invited me to lunch shortly after my father's death, I had difficulty finding motivation and meaning," she wrote. "Kobe, you brought Gianna to spend some time with me.
"You said you wanted to show her that women in the NBA can be as leaders as men," Buss wrote. “At first it seemed like a devoted father was giving an example of his daughter.
"But in reality – and I am sure that you knew exactly what you did – what you did was to give me the inspiration and strength I was looking for, ”continued the managing director.
"I think about this day a lot and it makes me smile and makes me strong."
She promised to repay this kindness by leading Bryant's widow Vanessa – who broke her own silence in a Wednesday post on the social media site – and the couple's three surviving daughters out of sorrow.
"Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka and Capri – I'm so sorry for your loss, ”wrote Buss. “We are grateful to have you in our lives and we will always be there for you.
"To the families who lost relatives on Sunday, the entire Laker family mourns with you," she added, referring to the seven others who died in the Calabasas hills crash.
“We will mourn together, cry together, but we will also heal together, love together and win TOGETHER. We love you, ”concluded Buss, including a link to the MambaOnThree Fund set up by the Bryants Mamba Sports Foundation to support the families of the other seven who died.