Kendra Wilkinson: ‘Thousands of Women’ Appreciated Hugh Hefner for ‘Giving Them Their Chance’

Kendra Wilkinson spent nearly five years with Hugh Hefner, and she always spoke so highly of him.

“A lot of women, so many women, thousands of women are so appreciative of Hef,” the Playboy model, 32, exclusively told Us Weekly in May 2016. “They are so happy that Hef gave them their chance and became who they are because of him.”

Hugh Hefner and Kendra Wilkinson
Hugh Hefner and Kendra Wilkinson attend Hugh Hefner's 82nd birthday celebration at Moon Nightclub inside The Palms Casino Resort on April 05, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Denise Truscello/WireImage

Despite fellow Playmate Holly Madison’s experience dating Hef, which she chronicles in her book Down the Rabbit Hole, Wilkinson told Us that she would always defend the media mogul. “I’m going to continue to fight for Hef that’s my job for the rest of my life,” the E! personality said of standing up for her ex-boyfriend. “I’m going to fight for him and that’s just how I stand.”

As previously reported, the legendary Playboy founder passed away on Wednesday, September 27, at the age of 91. “He changed my life,” the Kendra star said in a statement to Us. “He made me the person I am today. I couldn’t be more thankful for our friendship and our time together. I will miss him so much but he will be in my heart forever.”

Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson
Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner, Bridget Marquardt and Kendra Wilkinson attend 2007 Monte Carlo Television Festival in 2007. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Hef’s son Cooper has also spoken out about his father’s passing. “My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom,” Cooper said in a statement to Us. “He defined a lifestyle and these that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognizable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by man, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston, and all of us at Playboy Enterprises.”

Hef founded Playboy in Chicago in 1953. He is survived by his wife, Crystal Harris, and sons Marston, 27, David, 62, and daughter Christie, 64.

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!