Kobe and Vanessa Bryant's love story - and how it nearly crumbled before it began - Evewoman
Evewoman-logo

Readers Lounge

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant's love story - and how it nearly crumbled before it began

ALSO READ: Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa's emotional tribute to LA Lakers legend at memorial service

Kobe Bryant is being remembered in the wake of his tragic death, not only for his skill on the basketball court, but also as a proud dad and husband.

His widow Vanessa , who had been with him since 1999, has been left grieving for her partner and their second-eldest daughter Gianna, known as Gigi, who was killed in the horrific helicopter crash with him on Sunday morning.

The couple had four daughters together - Natalia, 17; Gianna, 13; three-year-old Bianka, and baby Capri Bryant, who is just 17 weeks old.

They met when Vanessa was just 17 and Kobe 21, fighting off opposition from his parents when they got engaged just six months after their first date in May 2000.

Backing dancer Vanessa was still in high school at the time, and was forced to finish her studies outside of classes to avoid media scrutiny.

But while the couple tackled huge obstacles to be together, Kobe's parents still decided to snub their wedding day in 2001, who reportedly had an issue with the fact he wasn't marrying an African-American woman.

Kobe's two sisters, his agent Arn Tellem and his Lakers teammates also all chose to swerve the big day.

ALSO READ: Kobe Bryant's wife shares heartbreaking post saying she 'can’t process' tragedy

The family estrangement dragged on for two years, until Vanessa gave birth to Natalia Diamante in January 2003, and Kobe's parents buried the hatchet with the young couple.

Kobe was hugely proud of his beloved family (Image: Instagram)

Their love story seemed sorted: Kobe was at the peak of his physical fitness, they had a young baby and lived a life of luxury in their $4million Newport Coast mansion in California.

But seven months later, Vanessa was left reeling when a 19-year-old woman accused Kobe of raping her at his hotel room. Kobe was arrested, with his accuser claiming he'd attacked her at The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Eagle County ahead of a scheduled knee operation.

Kobe's reputation was wrecked - he lost lucrative endorsement deals with McDonald's and Nutella, but he swerved a criminal trial in 2004 when prosecutors dropped the case because the alleged victim refused to testify in court.

Vanessa stood by her man throughout, even after he admitted having sex with the woman but denying it was nonconsensual.

Pictures of her looking adoringly at Kobe during a press conference about the allegations showed there was no doubt in her mind about their marriage continuing.

"I sit here in front of you guys furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making the mistake of adultery," he told the press.

ALSO READ: Men only: What Bryant teaches us about ‘manning’ up

"I love my wife with all my heart. She’s my backbone."

Kobe later issued a semi-apology to his accuser, saying in a public statement: "Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.

For More of This Stories Subscribe to the Standard Epaper to get a copy of Eve Woman in the Standard

"After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter."

The accuser later launched a civil lawsuit against him, but the case was settled out of court and Vanessa was seen shortly afterwards wearing a $4million purple diamond ring gifted by her husband.

He also got a tattoo of his wife's name to thank her for her support.

Vanessa was spotted with the $4m purple diamond ring shortly after Kobe was accused of rape (Image: Reuters)
Kobe and Vanessa, pictured at the 2018 Oscars, stayed together throughout the rape allegations (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

The couple went on to enjoy a relatively smooth marriage, until once again, Kobe's extra-marital behaviour threatened their relationship.

Vanessa even went so far as to file for divorce in 2011 citing "irreconcilable differences" as she believed he was cheating again.

A source told TMZ at the time: "She's been dealing with these incidents for a long time and has been a faithful wife, but she's finally had enough.

"This one is the straw that broke the camel's back."

With Kobe not protecting his $150million fortune with a prenup - Vanessa told pals "he love[s] me too much for one" - he was at risk of handing her half of everything he'd made throughout their 10-year marriage.

Kobe with daughter Gianna, who died alongside him in the helicopter crash (Image: ABACA/PA Images)

Vanessa also requested spousal support, which Kobe agreed to, as well as joint custody of their then two children.

But just two years later, the exes announced they'd called off their divorce and were getting back together.

"We are pleased to announce that we have reconciled," Vanessa wrote on Instagram at the time.

"Our divorce action will be dismissed. We are looking forward to our future together."

And in November 2015, when Koba revealed his retirement from the NBA, Vanessa shared her support for his decision.

"I'm so excited to see what God has in store for us as a family now that one chapter is closing and new ones are opening,” she said.

Since their reconciliation, Kobe and Vanessa seemed stronger than ever, taking great joy from their growing family.

And in November last year, just weeks before his untimely death at the age of 41, Kobe shared a snap taken on their first ever date to celebrate 20 years together.

"On this day 20 years ago I met my best friend, my Queen @vanessabryant I decided to take her on a date to Disneyland tonight to celebrate old school style (pre 4princesses) I love you my mamacita per sempre," he wrote on Instagram.

Kobe gushed about his wife on the 20th anniversary of their first date (Image: Instagram)

Kobe was fiercely proud of his four girls, famously taking down anyone who made mention of him having no boys.

"Guys keep teasing me," he said in July 2017.

"My friends say, 'It takes a real man to make a boy.' I’m like, 'Dude, it takes a king to make a princess… get in line.'

"It's pretty cool for me 'cause it's Daddy's little princesses," he added.

Kobe with Gigi, whose promising basketball career was set to skyrocket before the fatal crash (Image: USA TODAY Sports)

Kobe took great pleasure in being able to coach second daughter Gigi's basketball team, insisting she had what it takes to follow in his footsteps for the WNBA.

He told Jimmy Kimmel in October 2018 that Gigi had the best response to sexists, regaling the audience with a poignant anecdote.

"This kid, man," Kobe laughed with clear pride on his face.

Kobe and Vanessa were fiercely proud of their family (Image: instagram)

"The best thing that happens when we go out is fans come up to me and she'll be standing next to me, and they'll be like, 'man, you gotta have a boy, you and V gotta have a boy, have someone carry on your tradition, your legacy'.

"And she's like, 'Oi. I got this. Don't need no boy for that, I got this'," he chuckled.

Vanessa is yet to publicly comment on the deaths of her husband and daughter, who died on their way to a basketball match that Gigi was set to play in.

Their helicopter is believed to have crashed amid foggy conditions, with the pilot being told "you're too low" shortly before the horrific crash.

Officials have confirmed there were no survivors on board.

Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Eve Digital Telegram channel HERE.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke

Latest Stories

Subscribe to Eve Digital Newsletter

* indicates required

Popular Stories