Years ago, I never understood why Vanessa Bryant stayed with Kobe Bryant through thick and thin. They reportedly had a rough patch in 2011 and Vanessa filed for divorce and then, months later (mid-2012), she called off the divorce. Supposedly, she had evidence that he was a serial philanderer and she still took him back. Don’t say she stayed because of the money – she could have gotten tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) in a divorce. I honestly think she stayed because Kobe re-committed himself to her. I honestly think the past seven years or so were probably the happiest years of their marriage. Now Kobe is gone and so is their child Gianna. How can a person even put one foot in front of the other after that?
Vanessa Bryant is still struggling to comprehend the losses of her husband and child in the tragic Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. As fans continue to grieve over Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna‘s deaths, many are expressing their heartfelt condolences to the widowed mother of four, 37, who wed the late NBA icon in April 2001, when he was just 22 and she was 18.
“It’s an extremely difficult and devastating time for Vanessa and the whole family,” a friend of the family tells PEOPLE of the Bryants’ loved ones, including daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and 7-month-old Capri. Another insider tells PEOPLE that, as expected, Vanessa is “devastated.”
“She can hardly keep it together,” the insider says. “She can’t finish a sentence without crying. But she is working very hard to pull it together for the other girls. She now has to be the strong one.” The insider notes, “Of course, you can never be prepared for this. Despite their ups and downs, [Vanessa and Kobe] were soulmates. She thought of him as her partner for life.”
Now, facing a difficult future, Vanessa “is surrounded by people who love her and love Kobe. She has a good support system. She is relying on her faith. She is not alone. But she will be grieving this for a very long time,” the second source explains.
I would hope that she has extended family over for a while, and I would assume that the Laker community/NBA community is there for anything and everything she needs. She’s still so young too – just 37 years old, and facing an absolute horror show.
Also: the AMPAS plans on doing something at the Oscars for Kobe. They always do an In Memoriam section, but my guess is that there will be some kind of special, additional tribute.
Photos courtesy of WENN.