Basketball: 'We are completely devastated' - Vanessa Bryant on loss of husband Kobe and 13yo daughter

Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa, has spoken for the first time since the tragic death of the NBA legend and 13-year-old daughter Gianna (Gigi).

Bryant and his daughter died on Monday, along with seven other people, when a chartered helicopter plummeted into the hills of the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas.

The 41-year-old was regarded as one of the best basketball players of all time, winning five NBA championships as a member of the LA Lakers.

A distraught Vanessa Bryant took to social media on Thursday, thanking the millions of people from around the globe who had shown support for her husband and daughter. 

"Thank you for all the prayers," she wrote. "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 are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday and we share in their grief intimately.

"There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. 

"We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. 

"They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon."

The two-time NBA finals MVP, Gianna and other passengers were travelling in heavy LA fog to a basketball tournament on Monday.

The doomed flight circled the city for more than 30 minutes, before flight path controllers lost contact with the chopper on radar. 

Crash investigators aren't expected to release information on what caused the crash until late next week.

Vanessa Bryant has asked for continued privacy, as her family comes to terms with such a horrific accident. 

"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.

"Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality."