Like the rest of the world, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is still mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant. Jeanie has known Kobe ever since her father (Jerry Buss) signed him as a rookie back in 1996 and they had remained extremely close ever since.

Following Vanessa Bryant’s tribute last night, Jeanie finally broke her silence today after having a few days to gather her thoughts. The Lakers owner took to Instagram to express her love and gratitude for Kobe, saying he was like “family” to her.

"Kobe, I don’t know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers," Buss wrote ... "My father loved you like a son, which makes us family."

She continued, "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.”

After sharing her love for Vanessa and the girls, Jeanie then went on to pay respect to the other victims in the crash, saying the whole Laker family is mourning with them. "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."

Read Jeannie’s full tribute (below).