The world has been in mourning ever since Kobe Bryant, 41, tragically died in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California, on January 26, along with eight other victims, including one of his four daughters, Gianna, 13.
While Kobe’s wife of 19 years, Vanessa Bryant, shared an emotional tribute on Instagram with the millions of fans who’ve shared their love and support for her and her family, little has been seen or heard of Kobe’s parents, Pamela Cox Bryant and Joe Bryant.
In addition to raising Kobe, arguably one of the greatest NBA players of all time, Joe and Pam had two daughters, Sharia and Shaya. While the family was close growing up and through most of Kobe’s career, they had a huge falling out in 2013 after the family tried selling his memorabilia behind his back.
Joe and Pam were not present for Kobe’s final NBA game before he retired. They were not invited.
Here’s what you need to know about Joe Bryant:
1. Joe Bryant Played For the San Diego Clippers
Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, like his son, is a retired NBA star. The 65-year-old, who stands at 6-foot-9, was drafted in the first round out of La Salle University by the Golden State Warriors. However, he officially started his NBA career playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, where he played for four seasons.
In 1979, he was traded to the San Diego Clippers, where he played for three years. Bryant closed out his career in the NBA playing for the Houston Rockets in 1983 and then played basketball in Europe for seven years.
2. Joe Bryant Was Head Coach Of The Los Angeles Sparks
After retiring from the sport, Bryant started his coaching career while still in Europe. He worked as head coach of the Akiba Hebrew Academy women’s basketball team before returning to the U.S. to become the assistant coach at La Salle University.
In 2005, Bryant was hired as the head coach for WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. He coached the team until 2007 when he was replaced by former Sparks coach Michael Cooper.
3. Bryant Discussed What It Was Like Raising A ‘Child Prodigy’
In a 2017 interview with Brandon Robinson on Scoop B Radio, Bryant said of Kobe, “I think as a parent, you figure he could play as long as he wants, as long as he enjoys the game. I think he made some comments about mentally … he’s fine. He likes the challenge. It’s your body. Your body takes you long to recuperate. That’s the challenge.”
“As a fan, just watching him play and putting up all those points and playing at such a high level at such a great organization like the Lakers,” Bryant said. “I think that’s probably one of the important things.
What Bryant most respected about his son’s career was that he always chose to do the right thing. “These kids come out of school and they worry about being a number one pick, number two pick, I think it’s more important that you get with the right organization and Kobe was able to do that and as you see, playing with one organization is really something special.”
4. Bryant & Wife Pam Had A Huge Falling Out With Their Son After They Tried Selling Memorabilia Behind Kobe’s Back
Bryant and his wife Pamela had three children together, son Kobe and daughters Sharia and Shaya. However, in 2013, Kobe and his parents had a huge falling out. Kobe said in an ESPN interview, “Our relationship is s***. I say [to them], ‘I’m going to buy you a very nice home,’ and the response is ‘That’s not good enough’? Then you’re selling my s***?”
Joe and Pam issued the following statement after getting caught trying to sell $500,000 worth of Kobe’s memorabilia, “”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.
Kobe said after cutting off his sisters financially, “They’re very smart, college-educated [women]. 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.”
5. Kobe Said He Lost All Respect For His Father As A Basketball Player
While Joe was initially managing Kobe’s career, after he said that his son’s whole career would’ve been different if he’d been in a different system and able to play on the perimeter like Magic Johnson, Kobe lost all respect for his father.
“When I hear those things,” Kobe said. “I don’t really understand them.” As The Undefeated stated, “In Kobe’s mind, he would never accept disappointment on the court like his father did. He couldn’t. Not if he wanted to be a legend.”