Kobe Bryant is known as the Mamba to many fans who revere his athletic accomplishments, but he went by different names to his family members. Kobe was a husband to his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and father to four kids. Tragically, the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, Gigi, was in the helicopter with her dad during the crash. Kobe is survived by three daughters: Natalia, Bianka and Capri.
Kobe is a son to his parents, Joe and Pamela Bryant, and brother to his two sisters, Sharia and Shaya. There are no words to express how great of a tragedy Kobe’s passing is to friends, family and fans alike.
After his retirement from the NBA, Kobe made it clear that he loved his new role as a full-time family man after years of traveling all over the country. During a 2016 interview with ESPN, Kobe admitted he fought for his family the same way he did on the basketball court.
“Life was no different than basketball,” Kobe said, per ESPN. “Once I made that connection, I’ll fight for my family all the way to the end.”
Learn more about Kobe’s family.
1. Kobe Met His Wife, Vanessa, When He Was Shooting a Music Video
Kobe’s rap career was shortlived but the one good thing that came out of it was meeting his wife. Kobe met Vanessa while he was on set shooting a music video for one of his rare rap songs, per ET Online. The couple recently celebrated 20 years of this meeting, and Kobe posted a sweet Instagram message about his wife along with an old photo.
“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,” Kobe noted on Instagram.
Kobe and Vanessa had an agreement that they would never fly together in the helicopter, per People.
“He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together,” a source explained to People.
2. Kobe & Vanessa’s Youngest of 4 Kids Is 7 Months Old
One of the heartbreaking parts of this story is Kobe and Vanessa recently welcomed a new daughter into the world. The couple’s youngest child is just seven-months-old. Kobe and Vanessa’s daughter, Capri, was born on June 20, 2019, and the Lakers legend celebrated July 4th by posting a photo of their newborn.
“Our little princess Capri Kobe Bryant ‘KoKo’ 6/20/19 ❤️,” Kobe noted on Instagram.
The couple are also the proud parents of Natalia (17) and Bianka (3). After years of being away from his family as an NBA player, Kobe was enjoying spending time with his wife and kids instead of constantly being at Staples Center.
“I have a life and I have my routine at home,” Kobe explained, per US Weekly. “It’s not that I don’t want to go [to Lakers games], but I’d rather be giving [Bianka] a shower and sing Barney songs to her. I played 20 years and I missed those moments before. For me to make the trip up to Staples Center, that means I’m missing an opportunity to spend another night with my kids when I know how fast it goes. … I want to make sure the days that I’m away from them are days that I absolutely have to be. I’d rather be with them than doing anything else.”
3. Kobe Noted He Was Estranged From His Parents in a 2016 Interview
When Kobe headed to the NBA, he appeared to have a good relationship with his parents, but things took a turn after they tried to sell some of his memorabilia. During a 2016 interview with ESPN, Kobe admitted that he was not on speaking terms with his mom or dad since the incident.
“Our relationship is s—,” Kobe noted, per ESPN. “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 —-?”
Kobe noted in the interview that he had not spoken with his parents since 2013. It is unclear if Kobe reconciled with his parents at any point prior to his death. One of Kobe’s former coaches Wayne Slappy indicated to the Daily Mail that the family was on their way to reconciling. Wayne recounted seeing Kobe hug his father, Joe, at a recent basketball camp.
‘I just remember being with him up at his camp in Santa Barbara, and seeing him hug his dad,” Wayne told the Daily Mail. “You know how they loved each other from how they looked at each other, how they smiled…Everybody’s family has issues, disagreements here and there. The healing comes, but this healing is going to be hard because he’s not here.”
Kobe grew up learning what it took to be a professional athlete as his dad played eight seasons in the NBA. Joe averaged 8.7 points, four rebounds and 1.7 assists during his career with stops in Philadelphia, San Diego and Houston.
4. Kobe Is Survived by 2 Sisters, Sharia & Shaya
Kobe is also survived by his two sisters, Sharia and Shaya. Kobe’s siblings have stayed out of the spotlight, and the Lakers legend spoke briefly about their relationship to ESPN. Kobe described himself as “proud” of his sisters noting they were both successful in their careers without his help.
“They’re very smart, college-educated [women],” Kobe noted, per ESPN. “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.”
5. Kobe’s Parents Issued an Apology in 2013 for Selling Their Son’s Memorbilla
Kobe and his parents reached a settlement outside of the lawsuit, per ESPN. Pamela and Joe were allowed to auction off 10 percent of the original items and issued an apology.
“We regret our actions and statements related to the Kobe Bryant auction memorabilia,” Kobe’s parents said in a statement, per ESPN. “We apologize for any misunderstanding and unintended pain we have caused our son and appreciate the financial support he has provided over the years. We also apologize to Goldin Auctions for their inadvertent involvement in this matter and thank them for their assistance.”
It was a complicated legal matter after Kobe sued Goldin Auctions for selling his memorabilia without his consent. Goldin counter-sued noting Pamela was the owner of the auctioned items, not Kobe. The lawsuit appeared to play a big role in the tension between Kobe and his parents.