The world has been rocked by the death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who died in a tragic helicopter crash on Sunday, leaving behind a wife and three daughters, as well as his parents, Joe and Pamela Bryant. Even worse was the fact that his 13-year-old daughter Gianna was aboard the aircraft as well, also perishing in the crash, along with the pilot and six other individuals.
While many fans are familiar with Bryant’s wife Vanessa and their relationship, most don’t realized the strained relationship he with his parents for years.
In 2003, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Joe and Pamela chose not to attend their son’s wedding, as they were reportedly unhappy that he was getting married at the age of 21 to then-18-year-old Vanessa. That was capped off with a report that stated Joe was not comfortable with the fact that Vanessa was Latina, claiming his parents wanted him to marry a black woman. Joe even addressed his issues with his son, saying, “Once he decided to get married, it’s his life now.”
2013 is when things got really bad after his parents attempted to auction off more than $1 million worth of his memorabilia. Bryant had his attorneys file a cease and desist letter to stop the auction from happening.
“Our relationship is s—,” Kobe told ESPN in 2016. “I say [to them], ‘I’m going to buy you a very nice home, and the response is ‘That’s not good enough’?”
Daily Mail would soon speak with Wayne Slappy, one of Kobe’s ex-coaches and a good friend of his dad, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, and inform them he’d seen Kobe recently hug his father at a basketball camp in California.
“I just remember being with him up at his camp in Santa Barbara and seeing him hug his dad. You know how they loved each other from how they looked at each other, how they smiled,” Slappy said of the two men.
“Everybody’s family has issues, disagreements here and there. The healing comes, but this healing is going to be hard because he’s not here,” the former coach said of Kobe.
“Can you imagine a black hole? It’s empty, how do you fill it? They’re a close-knit family. He was 41 years old, and then his daughter dies in an accident with him, too. His family are going to miss him more than you can begin to imagine,” Slappy said.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for his mother, Pam Bryant.
Emily Bicks of Heavy stated Kobe and his mom were not on speaking terms at the time of his death.
“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.”
Both parents were reportedly not invited to his final game.
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.”