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, who married husband Joe Bryant in 1975, 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 before he retired. They were not invited.
Pam’s relationship with her son remained strained following Kobe’s retirement. It’s unknown if they were able to reconcile prior to Kobe’s tragic death, but things continued to appear incredibly icy between the former Lakers star and his parents.
Here’s what you need to know about Pam Bryant:
Pam Bryant Refused To Attend Kobe & Vanessa’s Wedding
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.
Pam & Joe Bryant Had A Huge Falling Out With Their Son After They Tried Selling Memorabilia Behind Kobe’s Back
Pam and Joe Bryant had three children together, son Kobe and daughters Sharia and Shaya. However, in 2013, the family 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***?”
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 said of his sisters, whom he decided to cut off 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.”
Kobe Wrote In His ‘Letter To My Younger Self’ Not To Give Money To His Family Or Allow His Parents To Be His Managers
Following his retirement in 2016, Kobe penned a letter published in The Players’ Tribune, warning his 17-year-old self to “invest” in family and friends, but do not “give” to them.
He wrote, “Purely giving material things to your siblings and friends may appear to be the right decision. You love them, and they were always there for you growing up, so it’s only right that they should share in your success and all that comes with it. So you buy them a car, a big house, pay all of their bills. You want them to live a beautiful, comfortable life, right?”
Kobe continued, “The most important advice I can give to you is to make sure your parents remain PARENTS and not managers. Before you sign that first contract, figure out the right budget for your parents — one that will allow them to live beautifully while also growing your business and setting people up for long-term success. That way, your children’s kids and their kids will be able to invest in their own futures when the time comes.”
Pam & Joe Bryant Did Not Attend Kobe’s Retirement Ceremony With The Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers retired both of Black Mamba’s career numbers, 8 and 24, in December 2017. Kobe attended with his wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia, Gianna and Bianka. However, noticeably absent were Kobe’s mother and father.
During Kobe’s emotional speech, he did not mention or thank either Pam or Joe Bryant. The former NBA star thanked his wife, whom he called “an inspiration,” and the Hall of Famers who came before him.
“I want to say, thank you so much for tonight,” Kobe said. “But it’s not about my jerseys that are hanging up there for me. It’s about the jerseys that were hanging up there before. Without them, I couldn’t be there today. They inspired me to play the game at a high level: Magic [Johnson], Cap [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar], Shaq pushing me every day. [Elgin] Baylor. [Walt] Chamberlain. [Gail] Goodrich. [Jerry] West. [James] Worthy. It goes on and on.”
Kobe also thanked his daughters, mentioning that even though they were born into a world of privilege, he will expect them to work hard in life.
You guys know that if you do the work, you work hard enough, your dreams come true. But hopefully, what you get from tonight is the understanding that those times when you get up early and you work hard, those times when you stay up late and you work hard, those times when you don’t feel like working, you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway, that is actually the dream. That’s the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And if you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see is you won’t accomplish your dreams. Your dreams won’t come true. Something greater will, and if you guys can understand that, then I’m doing my job as a father.