His father first broke his heart when he did not accept his marriage to Vanessa in 2001.
That Kobe Bryant was a devoted father is no secret. He was doing everything in his power to make his daughters feel loved and capable of chasing their dreams. But not many would know that he was a devoted son too.
However, unlike Gianna and his other daughters, Kobe did not receive the support from his father that might have been expected. In addition to many other turbulent events, this could be based on the fact that there has been no official statement from his estranged parents even though it has been days since the demise of the iconic basketball player.
According to the LA Times, the NBA star had a rocky relationship with his father. Their initial clash and subsequent estrangement go back to the time when he decided to marry Vanessa Laine [maiden last name] in 2001. Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, Kobe's father and a former NBA player himself was averse to the idea of Kobe wanting to marry a Latina and not an African-American; so much so, that he did not attend his own son's wedding.
#REALITIESofLIFE .. Can Be Faced In #DifferentWAYS By Various People In #ThisWORLD .. #KobeBRYANT & His Parents ("#JellyBean" #JoeBRYANT & #PamelaCoxBRYANT) faced the #realities of #manyHappenings in their lives subjectively ** https://t.co/T6l3BI4BpZ— Augorss News Digest (@augorssAnalyst) January 28, 2020
Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved from Pacific Palisades to Newport Coast, closer to where Vanessa’s family was in Orange County. Moving away from his parents, however, did not erase his feelings for them. When Kobe won his second championship with the Los Angeles Lakers two months later, he broke down as he held the trophy, and later shared, "That was about my dad."
As time passed, the dust over their relationship seemed to blow off and they started taking steps towards burying the hatchet. In 2005, when Joe Bryant joined the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks as a coach, it appeared that Kobe would, in fact, get his father back. But his father apparently had different plans; ones that would push the relationship to a point of no return.
It was reported publicly that Joe Bryant and his wife, Pamela, tried to peddle some of Kobe's memorabilia without his permission in 2013, including two high school uniforms and a pair of Los Angeles Lakers championship rings from 2000, reports the LA Times. It was also reported that Kobe's mother planned to buy a house in Nevada with the $450,000 advance she received. Their internal distress turned into a public feud and the matter was settled in court.
Kobe's parents did issue an apology statement back in the time but the damage had already been done. "We regret our actions and statements related to the Kobe Bryant auction memorabilia,” they had said in a statement. "We apologize for any misunderstanding and unintended pain we have caused our son and appreciate the financial support he has provided over the years."
Later in 2016, Kobe told ESPN, "Our relationship is shit. I say, 'I’m going to buy you a very nice home,' and the response is, 'That’s not good enough?' Then you’re selling my shit?"
But according to Wayne Slappy, one of the NBA legend’s ex-coaches and a good friend of Joe Bryant, recently revealed Kobe was working towards bringing his whole family together and making up for the years that were spent in bitterness. He told Mail Online that he’d seen the 41-year-old embrace his father at a basketball camp in California recently. "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.
As a Philly native who saw Kobe's father Joe Bryant play in high school, I'm glad to learn that Kobe was working on mending his relationship after a long estrangement.— Raising Kane (@eugene_kane) January 28, 2020
Hopefully, they reconciled any father/son issues. https://t.co/Y97D7DInNy
He went on to say that the full reconciliation that Kobe was working towards will always remain unfulfilled now that he is not here. “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.
Slappy also revealed how he reacted when he heard about Kobe's demise and it could break a solid heart. “I just sat in the parking lot at Costco crying for an hour,” he said.