A memorial service honoring Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, was held at the Staples Center, aka “The House that Kobe Built,” on February 24 and the former NBA star’s parents were both in attendance. With the blessing of wife and mother Vanessa Bryant, who named the event “A Celebration of Life,” the ceremony will also honor the seven other victims who died in the tragic helicopter crash on January 26.
The sold-out memorial began at 10 a.m. PT, with all ticket proceeds going to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation. The guest list of notable speakers and performer were kept under wraps until Monday’s service, but not only was Vanessa present, but she gave an incredible speech as well.
In addition to Kobe’s wife of nearly 20 years, attendees saw that Vanessa brought along her three children, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 8 months. Also at Staples Center to show their support, Vanessa’s mother Sofia Laine, and sister Sophie Laine.
Throughout the past month, however, little has been seen or heard of Kobe’s parents, Pamela Cox Bryant and Joe Bryant. Pam and Joe married in 1975 and raised Kobe, who went on to become one of the greatest NBA players of all time and their two daughters. While the family was close growing up, the first falling out with their son happened in 2001, when they didn’t approve of his marriage to Vanessa, and the family refused to attend their wedding. However, after Vanessa gave birth to their first child Natalia, things softened, and their relationship once again became amicable.
In 2013, Pam and Joe had another huge falling out with Kobe after they were caught trying to sell their son’s 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 learn Kobe and his parents were not able to fully reconcile prior to his 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.”
Where Are Joe & Pam Bryant Now?
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.”
Vanessa Hosted A Private Family Burial For Kobe & Gianna On February 7
In documents obtained by Extra TV, Vanessa Bryant held a private funeral service for Kobe and Gianna on February 7, at Pacific View Mortuary, which is located in Corona Del Mar, California. It’s the same location where Hollywood’s most famous cowboy John Wayne was also buried.
It’s unknown how many friends and family attended the private burial but based on Vanessa’s social media post last weekend, which featured a video of her daughter, Capri, 8 months, standing up with the help of her aunt, which meant Kobe’s sister Sharia Bryant Washington aka “Aunt Ri-Ri” was in town from Las Vegas for the service.