Kobe Bryant’s death last weekend shocked the world. He perished in a helicopter crash along with seven others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. After his 2016 retirement, Bryant appeared to settle into his post-basketball life. He stayed mostly away from the Staples Center, his workplace for 20 years. But Gianna, nicknamed Gigi, took an interest in basketball, and Kobe eventually formed Mamba Academy, a girl’s basketball team to support her ambitions.
Sadly, Bryant and his daughter would die while pursuing her aspirations to follow in her father’s footsteps. Bryant, who had four daughters with Vanessa Bryant, his wife of 18 years seemed to be enjoying his post-retirement life as a husband and father. One of the reasons why he took frequent helicopter trips was to have more time to spend with his family.
Yet a part of his family remained outside of his inner circle. He appears to have made amends with his sisters, Shaya and Sharia, who grew up with him outside Philadelphia. One of his sisters, Sharia Washington, posted a photo collage to Facebook this week of her brother with her and her sister and their children, including Gianna. Washington, her husband and three kids, lives in Las Vegas, where Kobe’s parents also reside.
Some of the pics appear to be recent which may indicate that he and his sisters remained on good terms. In a xxxx article for “The Player’s Tribune” Kobe said in their feature “Letter To My 17-Year-Old Self” that providing his parents and sisters with material things only hurt their relationships. He noted then that his sisters had finished school with his help and that they now had their own careers and got along better because of it.
“They’re very smart, college-educated [women],” Kobe told ESPN in 2016. “I’m really proud of them. They were able to get their own jobs, get their own lives, take care of themselves. Now they have a better sense of self, of who they are as people, instead of being resentful because they were relying on me. It was tough for me to do. But it’s something you have to do, something you have to be very strong about.”
His parents, Joe and Pam Bryant, were estranged from Kobe. The estrangement began when Kobe married 18-year-old Vanessa Laine in 2001. It has said that the Bryants thought their son was too young to be married. They did not attend his wedding. In 2013, the Bryants attempted to sell some of Kobe’s memorabilia and Kobe sued them.
“Our relationship is sh*t,” he told ESPN. “I say [to them], ‘I’m going to buy you a very nice home, and the response is ‘That’s not good enough’?” he says. “Then you’re selling my sh*t?”
The Bryants issued an apologetic joint statement at the time.
“We regret our actions and statements related to the Kobe Bryant auction memorabilia. We apologize for any misunderstanding and unintended pain we may have caused our son and appreciate the financial support that he has provided to us over the years.”
A court order allowed six items, reportedly worth $500K to be sold by the Bryants.
Despite that apology, Kobe’s parents were not at his last NBA game on April 13, 2016 when he scored 60 points. Nor did they attend his jersey retirement ceremony on December 18th, 2017 when his #24 and #8 jerseys were retired. However, their relationship may have shown signs of mending as a Bryant family friend, Wayne Slappy, told the Daily Mail that Kobe and his father embraced at Kobe’s camp in Santa Barbara, Ca.
Vanessa’s mother Sofia Laine, who was a mainstay in Kobe and Vanessa’s life, made headlines during her 2003 divorce from Vanessa Bryant’s stepfather. She accused him of infidelity, but Laine he told TMZ years after their divorce, when Vanessa had filed divorce papers herself, that “she was a gold digger just like her mother.”
Though Vanessa filed for divorce from Kobe in 2011, Kobe and Vanessa ultimately reconciled and had two more daughters, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
Vanessa had her own challenges setting financial boundaries when she married Bryant. In 2000, her mother and stepfather filed for bankruptcy. In 2002, Vanessa said in court documents that she didn’t intend on supporting her mother financially.
“While I have been fortunate enough to be able, occasionally, to help my mother financially, I do not intend on supporting my mother with monthly continual and/or consistent gifts,” she said in the docs, according to the New York Post. However between 2001 – 2003, Kobe and Vanessa paid for a 90K Mercedes, gifted Laine a 120K retirement fund and gave her 50K worth of furniture.
Ultimately, reports say that Kobe and Vanessa eventually paid for over 500K of debts incurred by Vanessa’s mother including the a $230,000 mortgage the Laine’s home, along with phone, dental, credit card bills and car loans, the Arizona Daily Sun reported in 2003.
Bryant’s relationship with his own mother at the time of his death is unknown. The Las Vegas resident was approached outside her home after the news of Kobe’s death broke and she had no comment, saying “Not right now.” Multiple reports say the two remained estranged.
In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault in Eagle, Colorado, where he’d gone to have knee surgery. A 19-year-old concierge at the hotel he stayed at was the accuser. Bryant, then 24, had been married a year at the time. He acknowledged having sex outside his marriage with the accuser and others.
He maintained that he and the accuser had consensual sex and brought Vanessa an apology diamond that was said to have cost over a million dollars. The case never went to trial and Kobe and the accuser eventually settled out of court. He issued an apologetic statement that said the two didn’t see the encounter the same way.
First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colorado.
I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman. She has agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case. Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.
I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado.
The accuser did file a civil case in 2004 and was paid an estimated $2.5M in 2006, though the terms were never revealed to the public.
Another organization rocked by news of Kobe’s passing is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. During his lifetime, Kobe granted 200 Make-A-Wish requests. See video below:
(Photo Source: AP/PR Photos)
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