Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, is struggling to “keep it together” and “can’t finish a sentence without crying,” family friends say.
The pals told People magazine that the NBA legend’s 37-year-old widow is surrounded by “a good support system” — but “you can never be prepared for this.”
“Despite their ups and downs, [the couple] were soulmates. She thought of him as her partner for life,” a source said of Vanessa and Kobe, who was killed along with their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning.
Vanessa is “devastated. She can hardly keep it together,’’ the source said. “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.”
Vanessa has three surviving daughters with Kobe: Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
Kobe’s wife “is surrounded by people who love her and love Kobe,” the source added. “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.”
A family friend added, “It’s an extremely difficult and devastating time for Vanessa and the whole family.”
Kobe’s surviving daughters are reeling, too, the sources said.
“He had a special bond with each of them,’’ another friend said of Kobe and his kids.
He was “so proud to see [them] take after not only him and Vanessa but also grow into their own.”
The former LA Lakers star said in a November interview that “being a father is the thing I am most proud of in this world; it’s my greatest accomplishment.”
“I’ve learned so much, but perhaps the most profound thing has been the fierce, unconditional love you have for your children when you become a parent,” he said.
Kobe and Vanessa married in 2001, when she was just 18 and he was 22.