Lakers owner speaks out for first time since Kobe's death

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss (Getty Images)
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss (Getty Images)

Los Angeles - Jeanie Buss, the controlling owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, made her first public comments since Kobe Bryant's death via Instagram on Thursday, calling the franchise icon "family."

"Kobe, I don't know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers," wrote Buss, daughter of longtime owner Jerry Buss who died three years before Bryant retired.

Bryant, who won five NBA titles in a 20-year tenure with the Lakers, died Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people.

"My father loved you like a son, which makes us family," Buss wrote. 

"When you invited me to lunch shortly after my father passed away, I was struggling to find motivation and purpose. Kobe, you brought Gianna with you to spend some time with me. You explained that you wanted to show her that women can be leaders in the NBA, just like the men.

"At first, it seemed like an action of a devoted father setting an example for his daughter. But in actuality - and I am positively sure you knew EXACTLY what you were doing - what you did was give me the inspiration and strength I was searching for.

"For everything you did on the court that filled me with so much joy and love, for all the lives you changed through basketball itself, it was that day with Gigi that reignited my drive and determination."

Buss expressed sympathy to Bryant's wife Vanessa and their other three daughters: Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

"We will always be here for you," she said. "To the families that also lost loved ones on Sunday, the entire Laker family mourns with you.

"Laker Nation - we are one family grieving the loss of people we all loved dearly.

"We will mourn together, cry together but we will also heal together, love together and win TOGETHER. We love you. Kobe - that's what you made you so unbelievably special. You not only inspired us towards greatness, you showed us the way."

View this post on Instagram

Kobe, I don’t know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers. My father loved you like a son, which makes us family. When you invited me to lunch shortly after my father passed away, I was struggling to find motivation and purpose. Kobe, you brought Gianna with you to spend some time with me. You explained that you wanted to show her that women can be leaders in the NBA, just like the men. At first, it seemed like an action of a devoted father setting an example for his daughter. But in actuality – and I am positively sure you knew EXACTLY what you were doing – what you did was give me the inspiration and strength I was searching for. I reflect on that day often and it makes me smile and it makes me strong. I call on that memory whenever I feel down and need a bit of courage. For everything you did on the court that filled me with so much joy and love, for all the lives you changed through basketball itself, it was that day with Gigi that reignited my drive and determination. Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri - I am so sorry for your loss. We are grateful to have you in our lives and we will always be here for you. To the families that also lost loved ones on Sunday, the entire Laker family mourns with you. Laker Nation - we are one family grieving the loss of people we all loved dearly. We will mourn together, cry together but we will also heal together, love together and win TOGETHER. We love you. Kobe - that’s what you made you so unbelievably special. You not only inspired us towards greatness, you showed us the way. : : To learn more about how you can help the families affected by this tragedy go to MambaOnThree.org and to further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports visit MambaSportsFoundation.org #peace #love #joy #family #Mamba #Mambacita #2 #8 #24 : : Picture taken in February 2016 on the way to #NBAAllStar game in #Toronto

A post shared by Jeanie Buss (@jeaniebuss) on

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