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 nearly 20 years, Vanessa Bryant, processes the loss of her husband and daughter, the former Lakers star’s family is processing the loss of their son on brother. It’s disheartening to know that Kobe was not on speaking terms with his parents, Joe Bryant and Pam Bryant, but he always remained close with his two older sisters, Sharia Bryant and Shaya Bryant.
On January 27, Sharia updated her Facebook page to include at 10-photo tribute to her brother and niece. While her profile picture was changed to black, the moving collage shows Kobe hanging out with both Sharia and Shaya, along with all their respective children. It’s clear Gianna was loved by her cousins, and that Uncle Kobe will be missed. As of February 24, her profile picture features the Kobe Bryant NBA All-Star MVP Award.
Here’s what you need to know about Sharia Bryant Washington:
1. Sharia Supported Kobe During His Court Case Against Their Parents
While the family was close growing up and through most of Kobe’s career, they had a huge falling out in 2013 after Pamel and Joe tried selling his memorabilia behind his back.
Sharia Bryant Washington filed a May 11 declaration that stated their mother had mentioned cashing in on Kobe’s success by selling his belongings, according to records inside Orange County’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse. Washington said that she once stored memorabilia from her brother’s music career in her garage but returned the items to her brother “because my mother has access to my garage and I feared that she would try to sell that memorabilia.”
Though Washington said she has “never been privy” to discussions between Pam and her brother about the ownership of his memorabilia, she told U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford, “I have frequently heard my mother talk about how the family can make money on items associated with Kobe.”
2. Sharia Lives In Las Vegas With Husband Jerrod Washington & Their Three Children
Washington lives a short plane ride away from Kobe Bryant and his family in the Los Angeles area with husband Jerrod Washington and their children, two girls and one boy.
According to Sharia’s LinkedIn profile, Washington works as the director of sales and partnerships at SUN50, a job she recently started in January. SUN50 is an apparel brand made with sun protection. Prior to that, she worked as a personal trainer and facility leader at Las Vegas Fit Body Boot Camp. Her husband Jerrod, originally from Philadelphia, and a graduate of UVA, is the co-owner of Brandyay.
3. Kobe Bryant Had Cut Off Both Of His Sisters Financially, But They Remained Close
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 “Letter to My Younger Self” for The Player’s Tribune in July 2016, “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?”
“But the day will come when you realize that as much as you believed you were doing the right thing, you were actually holding them back… Understand that you are about to be the leader of the family, and this involves making tough choices, even if your siblings and friends do not understand them at the time. Invest in their future, don’t just give.”
Kobe continued to share a close relationship with his nieces and nephews, and shared photos of their accomplishments on Instagram.
Sharia, a graduate of Temple University, first worked as a volleyball coach in the Las Vegas area for seven years, before becoming the director at Serve Receive Foundation, where she worked for five years.
4. Joe Bryant, Sharia, Shaya & Kobe’s Father, Is A Retired NBA Star
Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, 65, who stands at 6′ 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. While all three of his children with wife Pamela started their childhood growing up in Italy, after retiring, the family moved to Philadelphia.
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.
5. Sharia’s Son Jett Is Youth Football Player
Sharia and Jerrod Washington are raising a future sports star of their own. Jett Washington, their only son, plays with the Apex Predators Flag Football Club in Las Vegas and the Jr. Patriots.
In January 2019, Jett and the Apex Raiders, a co-ed team of 9 and 10-year-old won the NFL Flag Championship in Orlando, Florida.
READ NEXT: Kyle Shanahan’s Dad Mike Shanahan Also Coached Packers’ Matt LaFleur