Vanessa Bryant received the worst news possible on Sunday, Jan. 26: her husband and daughter, Kobe and Gianna Bryant, had died. The two had been on a helicopter along with seven others when the chopper suddenly crashed and burst into flames on a hillside. There were no survivors.
As of writing, Bryant has not publicly commented on the deaths of Kobe and Gianna. But sources say she’s an emotional wreck.
More on the day Kobe and Gianna Bryant passed
Kobe, 41, and Gianna, 13, were headed to Thousand Oaks, California for a basketball tournament, where Gianna was supposed to play and Kobe was slated to coach.
They were joined by mother-and-daughter Sarah and Payton Chester, basketball coach Christina Mauser, pilot Ara Zobayan, as well as baseball coach John Altobelli, his daughter Alyssa Altobelli and wife Keri Altobelli.
The helicopter departed from Orange Country just after 9 a.m. PT and encountered heavy fog shortly after. The pilot had allegedly been trying to clear a cloud layer when the chopper crashed into a rugged hillside and sparked a brush fire. All nine bodies were later recovered from the site.
As of writing, investigators are still trying to figure out the exact cause of the accident, but sources told USA Today it seems weather-related.
How Vanessa Bryant is holding up
Sources told People on Jan. 28 that Bryant is “devastated.”
“It’s an extremely difficult and devastating time for Vanessa and the whole family,” a friend of the Bryants told the outlet, referencing Bryant and Kobe’s other daughters — Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
“She can hardly keep it together,” another insider said of Bryant. “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 source went on, “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.”
The couple married in 2001 following a two-year romance. Bryant filed for divorce in 2011, but they were able to mend their relationship and called off the proceedings in 2013. A little over a month before his death, Kobe professed his love for Bryant on Instagram and called her his “best friend.”
As she tries to pick up the pieces and move on from the tragedy, Bryant “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 insider claimed.
Celebrities have been sending her lots of love
The news of Kobe and Gianna’s deaths led to an outpouring of grief on social media, with many sending their condolences to the Bryant family.
Actress Viola Davis tweeted: “My heart goes out to Vanessa. Completely devastating. I know how much he LOVED his family and children! Just devastating…. God bless Kobe and Gianna and family. Heartbroken!”
Former President Barack Obama also tweeted a touching tribute that said: “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
Jennifer Lopez took to Instagram and posted a lengthy note in which she said she sent “all of [her] love” to Bryant and talked about how unfair the tragedy is.
Many members of the basketball community also sent Bryant warm words, including Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, and Steve Nash.
We send her lots of love, too.