);
Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers release a statement on the passing of Kobe Bryant

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers released their first statement since the loss of franchise legend Kobe Bryant.

"We are devastated and have been forever changed by the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna," the Lakers tweeted. "We send our love to Vanessa, the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers.

"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 Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to support the families affected by this tragedy. To help, please visit http://MambaOnThree.org. For those who are inspired to continue Kobe and Gianna's legacy in youth sports, please visit http://MambaSportsFoundation.org."

MORE: Vanessa Bryant makes first public statement

The Lakers also tweeted out a photo of Kobe and Gianna that has since been pinned to the top of their page.

The Lakers acquired Kobe in a draft night trade with the Charlotte Hornets in 1996. He spent 20 seasons with the franchise, becoming a five-time champion, two-time finals MVP, one-time league MVP and 18-time All-Star, to name a few accolades.

Bryant retired at the end of the 2015-16 season with career averages of 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.

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