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.
Pam and Joe Bryant married in 1975 and raised Kobe, arguably one of the greatest NBA players of all time, and their 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, nor were they in attendance for his jersey retirement ceremony in 2017. They were not invited.
It’s heartbreaking to know that they were not able to fully reconcile prior to their son’s tragic death. However, Wayne Slappy, a close friend of Joe Bryant and former coach of the Lakers star, told the Daily Mail that there was hope for the Bryants yet.
“I just remember being with him up at [Kobe’s] camp in Santa Barbara and seeing him hug his dad,” Slappy said. Despite their years of turmoil, “You know how they loved each other from how they looked at each other, how they smiled. [Kobe] was 41 years old, and then his daughter dies in an accident with him, too. His family [is] going to miss him more than you can begin to imagine.”
Here are the latest updates on Kobe Bryant’s parents:
Joe & Pam Bryant Live In Las Vegas Near Kobe’s Older Sisters Sharia & Shaya
Kobe’s parents moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, near where both their daughters, Shaya and Sharia, reside with their families. A family business associate told The Sun, “Currently [Kobe’s] parents are grieving deeply, but want to be there to support their grandchildren. In the short term, there is hope that the problems can be set aside for this moment – longer-term nothing can be considered. But this is all up to Vanessa – and Lord knows what she is going through.”
The day after the helicopter crash, Sharia Bryant Washington’s husband, Jerrod Washington, added, “It’s not a good time to talk right now. I’m with my wife and just want to make sure to take care of her right now.”
While no one from Kobe’s immediate family has spoken out since the crash, a family friend visiting Sharia also spoke to The Sun saying, they are all “obviously heartbroken” and that “at some point, the family will be reaching out but right now we are all in shock.”
Pam & Joe Bryant Feud With Kobe Started After They Refused To Attend His Wedding To Vanessa
Kobe and Vanessa were very young when they first met and fell in love. The budding NBA star was 21 when he proposed to Vanessa, 18, a senior at Marina High.
Pam and Joe, along with Sharia and Shaya, were not present at Kobe and Vanessa’s wedding in Dana Point, California, in 2001. According to Nicki Swift, Kobe’s mother opposed the marriage because she thought they were too young to tie the knot. However, after the couple welcomed their first child, Natalia, Kobe and his mother were able to mend their strained relationship, a reconciliation that lasted for over a decade.
In 2013, after Pam and Joe Bryant were caught trying to sell Kobe’s memorabilia without his permission, it was a nasty public fight from which they were never able to recover. In 2016, Kobe confirmed things were still icy between him and his parents. He 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***?”
After Bryant sued Goldin Auctions, the brokerage company Joe and Pam used, they came to an agreement a week before his case was set to go to trial in New Jersey.
His parents issued the following statement after trying to sell nearly $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 also decided to cut off his sisters financially, but the siblings remained close.
“They’re very smart, college-educated [women],” Kobe said of Shaya and Sharia. “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.”
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