January 2020 was supposed to be a new start for many. Sadly, less than one month into the year, the world learned that one of the greatest basketball players of all time had lost his life. It wasn’t just Kobe Bryant that was gone; his 13-year-old daughter Gigi and seven other people were all on the helicopter when it crashed in Los Angeles. Tragically, everyone on board lost their lives.
Kobe has left behind a host of fans across the world, but that’s not all. He’s succeeded by a wife, Vanessa, and their three children. Vanessa Bryant has been by the athlete’s side for most of her life and has been through some pretty tough times in the past. Now, it seems as though the family will have to start a new chapter – even though it’s one they never asked for.
On January 26, 2020, the world was suddenly taken aback by the unthinkable. Another star had lost their lives. However, this was more of a surprise than many others as it was Kobe Bryant – the legendary Los Angeles Lakers player. It turned out that he had been involved in a helicopter crash that took his life. As the hours continued to pass, more and more new emerged about the accident.
It wasn’t long before we learned that nine people were in the helicopter at the time, and they tragically all lost their lives as a result. Sadly, Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter was one of the many victims, as well as a basketball coach and her entire family and the pilot flying the helicopter.
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A loving family
Kobe and Gigi’s passing was enough to shake the world. It wasn’t just Lakers fans that had lost an idol. Many people around the world had fallen for Kobe thanks to his incredible talents on the court and his additional work that he had been busy with in the years since his retirement from the sport.
Kobe Bryant left behind his wife, Vanessa, and their three remaining children: Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, seven months. It looked as though the family unit was stronger than ever with Gigi stepping into her dad’s footsteps as a basketball legend, but who is Vanessa? She will now be left to raise their family alone. However, it turns out that Kobe’s wife brought plenty to the relationship.
Love at first sight
Vanessa Laine was just 17 years old when she met 20-year-old Kobe Bryant. The pair arrived at the set of the ‘G’d Up’ music video by Tha Eastsidaz in November 1999. Vanessa was working as a background model on set, but someone quickly took her eye. She was still in high school at the time, while Kobe was already a major basketball player.
Their love looked as though it was written in the stars as it wasn’t long before the pair started dating. Of course, the news of Vanessa’s relationship with one of the most prominent up-and-coming basketball stars in the world quickly spread around the campus. Everyone wanted to learn about Vanessa while students hoped to catch a glimpse of the athlete.
Keeping away from the media
It wasn’t long before media from across the nation hoped to get a glimpse of the pair together as everyone wanted to know about the new woman on Kobe’s arm. There are some reports that a news helicopter was hovering above Vanessa’s school as they hoped to capture Kobe on campus. It looked as though people were going to all kinds of lengths to find out the truth.
Some of Vanessa’s classmates said they knew that Kobe was dating someone in school, but no one really knew that much about Vanessa. Sadly, it looked as though the attention was too much. It’s reported that Vanessa dropped out of high school and opted for homeschooling just to keep away from the paps. She even missed her prom.
A major announcement
The couple continued to date for a few months. However, it was the next news that seemed to get people talking. Kobe announced in 2000 that he was engaged to his girlfriend. The issue? Many worried that Vanessa was just 18 years old and that Kobe was only 22 at the time. While many were quick to discuss their relationship, it looked as though the pair were overjoyed with their news.
Kobe announced the engagement at one of his basketball practices. The couple was determined to show the world that they would do whatever it took to make their relationship work – even if they didn’t have the support of their family. That’s right; Kobe Bryant’s parents were less than thrilled by the announcement.
Kobe and Vanessa officially tied the knot in April 2001. However, Kobe’s parents were notably absent from the wedding. That’s because they were reportedly worried about the fact that the pair were so young. There were also rumors that Kobe’s folks weren’t happy with Vanessa’s heritage. Although his parents weren’t at the affair, many had their eyes on the couple and were pleased to see them walk down the aisle.
Many celebrity marriages seem to happen incredibly quickly, and people wanted to know if the couple would end up being another that entered a whirlwind relationship before calling it a day. Sadly, Kobe ended up falling out with his parents over their disapproval and didn’t speak for a couple of years.
A devoted wife
The pair soon settled into married life. However, Vanessa would have to make a few adjustments if she wanted their marriage to work. A source close to the couple spoke to People magazine, where they confessed that Vanessa had always been a nervous flyer. She would only ever attend home Lakers games so that she didn’t have to step foot on a plane.
That was until she decided to put her fears to one side and learn how to love flying all so that she could be by her husband’s side at big games across the nation. The world got to see Kobe and Vanessa together at Kobe’s former high school in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, as they arrived for a ceremony to retire Kobe’s old jersey, number 33.
Facing the music
Two years into their marriage, Kobe and Vanessa faced a major bump in the road. It was one that went on to affect Vanessa more than many people realized. The couple welcomed their first daughter into the world at the beginning of 2003. However, by the summer, the pair arrived at a now-famous televised interview. Here, the athlete was forced to admit that he had been unfaithful to his wife.
The woman in question claimed that Kobe had behaved inappropriately toward her while Kobe himself said that he was merely unfaithful, but nothing illegal had taken place. The nation watched as tears rolled down Kobe’s face. Vanessa never took her eyes off her husband. Kobe stated that Vanessa was “a piece of my heart” and his “backbone.”
Suffering the consequences
Although Kobe had publicly apologized to his wife while she was by his side, the case continued. The courts continued to look into the woman’s claims about Kobe and were ready to start the criminal trial. That was until the woman dropped the charges. It’s alleged that she no longer wanted to testify against the basketball star.
Instead, it’s believed that Kobe settled the case out of court. In the documentary ‘Kobe Bryant’s Muse,’ we got to learn the effects that it all had on Vanessa. Kobe revealed that his wife was pregnant when they learned that the case was being dropped. Tragically, she lost the child. Kobe believed that they should be building their family, but his actions had caused Vanessa too much stress, and they suffered a tragedy instead.
Being the wife of a basketball legend comes with plenty of privileges. All of a sudden, Vanessa went from living a life away from the cameras to having the eyes of the world watching her move. It’s reported that Vanessa was quickly treated like royalty by the other players and by the people working at the Staples Center – the Lakers’ home stadium.
During one interview with The Cut, Vanessa revealed that she was treated to elite “access” at the venue. While other wives and girlfriends were banned from the tunnel that led to the court, Vanessa was allowed to join Kobe. Vanessa said that she was the only one allowed in the tunnel because she wanted to give her husband a kiss before and after games away from the cameras.
Keeping things private
It turned out that Vanessa wanted to keep her life as private as possible. Even though she was married to one of the biggest names in basketball, she didn’t want to have her life plastered all over the media. Vanessa has almost two million followers on social media. However, she has her account set to private to ensure she has the final say about who will see her posts.
Even if you are chosen to see her posts, Vanessa is careful not to reveal too much about her private life to the world. That doesn’t mean that she keeps away from celebrities. There have been a handful of snaps that show Vanessa has brushed shoulders with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé.
Defending his wife
It wasn’t just Vanessa that was willing to give the relationship her all. Kobe also wanted to make sure that his wife knew he was ready to put all of their marital difficulties behind them and move forward. Kobe and fellow Lakers star Karl Malone’s relationship soon turned on its head. Kobe claimed that Malone had made “several inappropriate comments” to his wife at a basketball game in November 2004.
Rob Pelinka, Kobe’s agent, even spoke to ESPN, where he said that Kobe felt “hurt and betrayed” by the entire thing. Karl denied ever making the comments. However, he did apologize to Vanessa in case he had offended her. It looked as though the two basketball players eventually managed to move on from the incident.
Using her platform
2006 was a significant year for Vanessa as the couple welcomed their second daughter into the world. That wasn’t all. Just because she wanted to stay away from the limelight didn’t mean that Vanessa wanted to avoid using her fame for good. In 2006, the pair announced that they had started The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. The organization was created to help families and youths across the world.
They hoped to encourage people to get up and active by taking part in sports as well as financially support communities to help bring people together. As if that wasn’t enough, the foundation eventually helped to enrich minority student’s lives through various scholarships. The organization eventually teamed up with several other charities, including the Make A Wish Foundation.
Going their separate ways
Things seemed to have been going well for years. Kobe had been building his basketball career while Vanessa had been working on the foundation and caring for their family. So why did she file for a divorce in 2010? The news came on December 1, just a few weeks before Christmas. Vanessa stated the reason for their divorce was “irreconcilable differences.”
Once again, she wanted to keep the majority of the details away from the press. ABC News reported that Vanessa had filed for joint custody of their daughters and that Kobe had responded with the same request. However, the couple never signed a prenup. This meant that Vanessa was entitled to half of Kobe’s $150 million fortune thanks to his time with the Lakers.
Calling things off
Although many wanted to know what was going on behind closed doors, it looked as though Vanessa and her husband had learned how to keep their relationship away from prying eyes. Had something changed? Had Vanessa ever forgiven Kobe for betraying their relationship? At the time, Vanessa reported that she knew Kobe had made a mistake, but it was something they needed to work through.
The athlete even bought Vanessa a $4 million ring as a way to apologize. It might have looked as though it was over, but the news soon spread that Vanessa had called off the divorce and that the pair would continue to work on their marriage. Of course, many people were there to show their support.
Regrouping the family
Vanessa took to social media, where she posted a quote from the pair. The statement read, “We are pleased to announce that we have reconciled.” Vanessa stated their divorce actions would be “dismissed” and that they were “looking forward to our future together.” Many began to wonder how long the reconciliation would last.
However, the couple quickly showed that they were in it for the long haul as they welcomed two more daughters. Bianka was born in 2016, and Capri joined the family a few years later in 2019. Kobe would often share photos of his family and refer to his daughters as “princesses.” He was also in awe of how Vanessa was able to raise a family while he was busy playing basketball.
The next generation
Vanessa spent the majority of her time supporting her family as well as working with their foundations. It looked as though one of their daughters was ready to step into her father’s footsteps, and Gigi quickly fell for basketball. Some people asked if Kobe wanted a son to carry on his legacy. However, Gigi knew that she had everything she needed to be the next best star on the court.
She would often practice alongside her father and played for a local team. To top it off, Vanessa often referred to her daughter as “Mambacita.” Kobe had earned the nickname “Black Mamba” thanks to his time on the court, and it appeared that his talents had rubbed off on his daughter.
Not done yet
Many people thought that Kobe and Vanessa had welcomed everyone to their family. However, it looked as though they might have had plans to bring another child into the world. Kobe spoke to Extra in 2019, where he confessed that Vanessa “wants a boy more than I do.”
Sure, they were thrilled to have four daughters in their life, but Kobe hinted that he thought Vanessa wanted a son that would love her for the rest of her life. On the other hand, Kobe was thrilled at having all daughters and said that he was “super, super excited about that.” Even Kobe joked that he wanted one more child, so the family had enough to form their own basketball team.
Embracing their culture
One of the reasons that Kobe’s parents didn’t want to attend their son’s wedding was apparently due to Vanessa’s heritage. They allegedly didn’t want their son to marry a Latino woman. In fact, Vanessa has an Irish and Mexican background and is proud to share her family’s history with her children. It’s reported that Vanessa wanted her daughters to know all about their background on both sides of their family.
Some say that the mom of four showers their children with cultural diversity. The family might have lived in LA, but Vanessa hoped that the four girls lived four lives – and that she and Kobe never forgot about their rich family history. It certainly seemed to work for her children if Vanessa’s social media is anything to go by.
Dating an NBA star while still in high school meant that it was hard for Vanessa to live a normal teenage life. Apparently, Kobe would often send roses to her classrooms and would even arrive to pick her up after school. That was before the attention became too much, and Vanessa dropped out of school. However, there are some childhood favorites that Vanessa has held onto all these years.
It seems that she has always loved Disney and even shared her passion for the magical world with her family. Hola reports that the Bryant family were often spotted at Magic Kingdom as this seemed to be their personal favorite. Thankfully, there are some photos of the family’s Disney adventures on Vanessa’s social media.
Marking the occasion
Just a few weeks before the basketball star lost his life, Kobe shared a touching tribute to his wife on his social media. Here, he wrote that they were celebrating the 20th anniversary since they met. Kobe called Vanessa his “best friend” and “my Queen.” Of course, it wasn’t long before people were gushing over the post.
It really did look as though the couple had put their tumultuous past behind them and were looking forward to the future. That was just the beginning. Kobe decided to take Vanessa on a trip to Disneyland as a way to mark the occasion. Apparently, the athlete wanted to “celebrate old school style” as they posed for a snap outside the Sleeping Beauty Castle in California.
Stepping into their roles
A source living close to the couple in Newport Beach spoke to People where they confessed that Kobe and Vanessa have never been like any other parents in the area. They said that many parents spend their entire time working and leave their kids to be raised by nannies instead. However, they feel that the Bryants have always been “different.”
They continued to add that “family has always been a priority” for the couple – even when Kobe was playing basketball full-time. Vanessa reportedly stayed home as a stay-at-home mom while Kobe always found a way to make family time in between his busy work schedule. It appeared that spending time with their daughters was always the number one priority for both Vanessa and Kobe.
Creating family time
Believe it or not, but Kobe apparently started to use helicopters as a way to get around the city when he was still playing for the Lakers. Traffic in Los Angeles is so famous that people across the world have heard about the jams and accidents that take place on the roads every day. Sometimes, traveling just a few miles can take people hours if they get caught in a traffic jam.
Kobe reportedly invested in a helicopter so that he could still get too and from practices and games without having to sacrifice too much time with his wife and daughters. Everything had always gone so well. That was until January 26 when things suddenly couldn’t have gone much worse.
Maintaining some fears
Although helicopters seemed to be the most efficient way to get from one side of the city to the other, the couple had an agreement with one another. A source talking to People magazine explained that Vanessa and Kobe would never fly together. Perhaps they were taking a leaf out of the Royal Family’s book? After all, it’s rumored that they aren’t allowed to fly together on planes in case something happens.
Could Vanessa and Kobe really have been thinking about the worst that could happen? Vanessa might have put her fear of flying to rest, but it looked as though some of those worried never truly left. Welcoming a family probably did nothing but amplify those worries about what could happen.
A family event
Being so removed from the public meant that many people were on the edge of their seats as they tried to get a glimpse of Vanessa whenever she was spotted out with her husband and family. It looked as though everyone had arrived for the occasion in December 2017 as Kobe was invited to take part in his jersey retirement ceremony.
It was to mark the incredible career that Kobe had spent on the court. However, the picture wouldn’t have been complete without his family by his side. Vanessa arrived at the event by her husband’s side. The couple was also joined by their three children, Natalie, Gigi, and Bianka. Everyone was all smiles as they put an end to an era.
A balancing act
Of course, you can’t be at the top of fame without meeting some other huge names in the business, right? Kobe certainly knew how to pull a few strings as he brought his wife and daughters to meet Oprah. That sure is one way to make sure that you’re the coolest dad at school. However, Kobe was also such a significant part of other people’s lives.
Many celebrities, former teammates, and fans from around the world have all stepped forward to talk about their favorite memories of the basketball legend and how his career impacted their lives. It wasn’t always about his skills on the court. Sometimes, people were taken aback by Kobe’s determination to succeed and his ability to juggle a thriving career with a growing family.
Red carpet moments
Vanessa didn’t just get to enjoy trips to Disneyland over the years. She also got to get up close and personal with some of the stars of the movies. Back in 2018, the family all arrived at the premiere of ‘A Wrinkle In Time,’ but this wasn’t Vanessa’s only time on the red carpet. The same year, Kobe was nominated for Best Animated Short Film thanks to his movie ‘Dear Basketball.’
Amazingly, the athlete was able to take home the prize on the night. Of course, he was joined by Vanessa throughout the entire evening. It looked as though Vanessa always knew how to have her husband’s back and support him through every different aspect of his life, even when his career took a new turn.
Although Vanessa’s social media is private from most of the world, Kobe always took great pride in his family and uploaded a host of snaps that gave us an insight into their lives behind closed doors. It looked as though the family loved to do things as a unit. The athlete shared holiday photos from Thanksgiving 2019 as the Bryants all shared a grand meal together.
Another picture that he shared was one with his family from Halloween the same year. It turned out that the family wanted to enjoy the day by dressing up as characters from the ‘Wizard of Oz.’ Here, Vanessa dressed up as the Wicked Witch of the West while Kobe took on the role of the Wizard.
Learning the secrets to love
Vanessa and Kobe did well to keep many aspects of their relationship away from the public eye. However, some moments were tough to hide. Apparently, the couple still had their rough patches – even after they called off their divorce. Kobe hinted that they sometimes saw older couples and wondered how they made their relationship work. Kobe would often go and talk to these people to find out their secrets.
The results? One guy said that he still had arguments as a couple, they just learned how to work past them. The man confessed that his wife had kicked him out of the bedroom and that he’d been sleeping on the couch for two nights. This was enough hope for Kobe and Vanessa that things would work out in the end.
Sending love and prayers
The tragic news of Kobe and Gigi’s passing quickly spread across the world. It wasn’t long until people from the far corners of the planet reached out to share their love for the pair and how much they would miss having them in their lives. Thankfully, most people also shared their love and support for Vanessa and her children. Shaquille O’Neal is one of the many who has sent his support to the grieving wife.
The athlete spoke about how their families were like one big unit and wanted Vanessa to know that he had the family in his prayers. Other celebrities have also sent kind words of support. Hopefully, Vanessa and the family know that the world is all by her side as they try to recover from the tragedy.