"You're my backbone. You're a blessing. You're a piece of my heart. You're the air I breathe. And you're the strongest person I know," was how Kobe saw his wife. And now he's gone, leaving her with nothing but memories.
Ever since news of NBA legend Kobe Bryant's death got out, the world has been reeling from the shock. With tributes pouring in from his friends, fans, colleagues, and celebrities, many still can't believe that he is gone, as is his daughter, Gianna, and the seven other people who lost their lives in the helicopter crash. But the people who have been the most devastated by his loss are the three daughters and the wife of 19 years he left behind. For Vanessa Bryant, losing her husband has nearly broken her spirit. After all, the two of them had their ups and downs but their strong relationship stems from their willingness to work it out.
It was in 1999 when Vanessa was a 17-year-old high schooler who had just recently entered the music circuit that she laid eyes on the 20-year-old basketball star. He was already making a name for himself in the basketball field but wanted to give it a shot in the music industry.
They met during a shoot for Tha Eastsidaz music video “G’d up”, according to Global News CA. Before long, they were dating and six months later, when Vanessa turned 18, Kobe proposed and they got married in 2001.
However, though they loved each other, they had their fair share of relationship struggles, especially after the athlete was confirmed to have had an affair with another woman, according to The Daily Mail. This was the same year that they had their first daughter, Natalia. What was supposed to be a momentous event, was indeed such, but not in a good way. During a press conference, the tearful star told his wife, "You're my backbone. You're a blessing. You're a piece of my heart. You're the air I breathe. And you're the strongest person I know, and I'm so sorry for having to put you through this and having to put our family through this."
But the couple hit another rough patch, one that was devastating when Vanessa suffered a miscarriage after it was discovered that she was undergoing an ectopic pregnancy in 2005. Speaking in the Showtime documentary, Kobe Bryant's Muse he said, "We should be building our family. But because of my mistake, because of this tough year, we lost a baby." However, in the following year, they had the opportunity to expand their family and their second daughter Gianna was born. Just when everything seemed to be going fine, they hit one more rough patch, one that almost saw them divorced. It was the final test of their strength and they passed it.
Though they had filed for divorce, they didn't go through with it, choosing to make this bond and family work. They even had two more daughters after that, Bianka and Capri. In the blink of an eye, the couple was approaching nearly two decades of marriage, one that had come out stronger after all their issues. The 41-year-old actor paid a sweet tribute to the woman who had stood by him through everything.
In an Instagram post of a throwback picture of the two of them together, he wrote, "On this day 20 years ago I met my best friend, my Queen @vanessabryant I decided to take her on a date to Disneyland tonight to celebrate old school style (pre 4princesses) I love you my mamacita per sempre."
Then eight weeks later, Vanessa not only lost her husband but their second daughter in the crash too. A family friend of the couple told People, “It’s an extremely difficult and devastating time for Vanessa and the whole family." Another insider told the outlet that the 37-year-old widow was “devastated.” “She can hardly keep it together,” the insider said. “She can’t finish a sentence without crying. 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."
But even as she tries to work through her grief, she knows she has to stay strong for her daughters. "But she is working very hard to pull it together for the other girls. She now has to be the strong one," said the insider. Our hearts go out to her and her family, as well as to those who lost their own loved ones in the tragic crash.
In an Instagram post, the bereaved wife finally spoke up about the devastation she and her family were going through. "My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri."
She also shared her condolences for the others who lost their loved ones in the crash that took her husband and daughter. "We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon."
As for what is next for them, she said, "I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality."
We share our love and prayers with all those families who have to grieve for their families. R.I.P.