In 2020, the world suffered a number of losses. The top reason was the COVID-19 pandemic, but before the virus became a pandemic, the world mourned the death of one of the greatest athletes of the modern age, Kobe Bryant. This was a man who lived a life full of love and was an example for all things honourable to not just those around him but to the world at large. The kind of life he lived was full of all the values like hard work, honesty, resilience, and kindness. Upon Bryant’s passing, at the memorial service that was held in his honour, his wife Vanessa spoke at length about the kind of man Kobe Bryant was, not just as a loving husband but also as an incredible father.
How Old Was Kobe Bryant When His Love Story With Vanessa Began?
Because of how famous and incredibly influential the late NBA star was, his life and that of the family he left behind would continue to pique people’s interest for years to come. Among other things, his relationship with Vanessa has remained an interesting tale that teaches unconditional love, forgiveness, and enduring commitment towards one’s life partner. It’s a story that began in 1999 when Vanessa was still a teenager.
Kobe Bryant met the woman he would go on to marry sometime in November 1999, he was 21 at the time and she was just 17. As the story goes, the two met when Vanessa was working as a background dancer. Their meeting was one orchestrated by fate as it happened on the set of The Eastsidaz music video for G’d UP.
The basketballer was in the same building where the music video was being shot, as this was where he was working on his debut album. As of when they met, Vanessa was still a high school student and Bryant was already a well-established athlete. While this could have constituted a problem, it did not deter Kobe and Vanessa from pursuing a romance as they started dating a few months after.
Vanessa would soon learn that being the girlfriend of a famous basketballer can pose some measure of problems; she had to complete her education privately.
They Got Engaged The Same Year They Started Dating and Married The Following Year
The remarkable thing about the love story between Kobe and Vanessa Bryant is the strength of the love and passion that existed between them. One way that this was made apparent was in how long it took them to transition from being boyfriend and girlfriend to a married couple.
The two met for the first time in November 1999 and started to date in early 2000. They didn’t waste any time in showing they were serious about being together as they became engaged by May of the same year they started dating. They had only dated for a few months when they made the decision to become married.
If anyone imagined the couple would wait for a few years before they get married, they were in for a surprise. By the following year, precisely on the 18th of April 2001, Kobe and Vanessa got married. As you would easily find, the wedding took place in St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in California. This event was not without its own scandal as it was not attended by Kobe’s relatives; neither his two sisters nor his parents.
Kobe Bryant Parents Were Unwilling to Accept Vanessa Because She Isn’t Black.
Prior to their wedding, Vannesa and Bryant had done their possible best to keep their relationship out of the spotlight and it was mostly a scandal-free relationship. The first major scandal and hurdle that the couple faced was his parent’s refusal to accept Vannessa as the wife of their son.
There were a number of issues that the Bryants had with the union their son was about to enter. One of such issues was the fact that he was too young; it was hard to fathom that their 22-year-old son was getting married.
Another grouse they had with the union was the fact that Vannessa was not an African-American woman. As a result of these concerns, none of his parents was present at the wedding. But there was no stopping Kobe and Vannessa; they were so much in love that nothing could come in-between them.
As time went by, people around them began to understand that, including Kobe’s relatives. From what we learned, the Bryants were only willing to mend the relationship when Vannessa and Kobe had their first child, two years after in 2003.
Vanessa Stood Behind Kobe During The Sexual Assault Scandal That Rocked their Union In 2003
As earlier mentioned, Vanessa and Kobe loved one another a lot, so much so that they didn’t sign a prenuptial agreement. This was how strongly they trusted and had faith in their love. However, the true strength of their love was tested in 2003 when a sexual harassment case was laid at the feet of Kobe.
He had been arrested by the Eagle, Colorado sheriff’s office in the summer of 2003. The grounds of the arrest was his connection to the investigation of a sexual assault complaint that had been filed against him by a hotel employee who was 19. According to the young woman who worked in The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera where Bryant had stayed before having knee surgery, he had forcefully had sex with her the night before he was to have the said surgery.
When the investigation began, he denied having sexual relations with her, but upon being told that a test had revealed the existence of his semen in her, he admitted to the both of them sleeping together but stated that it was purely consensual. There were other things that pointed to the encounter being rape such as bruises on her neck, to which he said he liked to choke women and had done so in the past with a different lover, not his wife. The case was thrown out in 2004 and Bryant and his accuser settled the case out of court.
Through all of the drama, Vanessa stayed by his side and continued to be supportive, even as his public image pummeled and he lost endorsement deals. When he released his final statement on the event, he stated that he was wrong for all he had done, including misreading the situation with his accuser. He also asked that he be forgiven for cheating on his wife. When the case ended, one of the ways he expressed his remorse to Vannessa was by giving her an 8-carat purple diamond ring, worth $4 million.
For many, the sexual assault case proved that the love between Kobe and Vannessa was strong and genuine. Since they didn’t sign any prenuptial agreement, it was widely expected that Vannessa would file for divorce and cash-in on Kobe’s wealth; that didn’t happen.
The Promise of Divorce
Given the storm Vanessa and Kobe Bryant weathered before they got married, and the sexual assault scandal that rocked their union, it was thought that nothing else could make them fall apart. As such, it was a big deal when it emerged that Vanessa filed for divorce in 2011 after they had been married for more than a decade.
Reports had it that the filing happened on the 16th of December 2011, and she had stated the reason for the divorce as irreconcilable differences. It was said that they both wanted to have joint custody of their children; that Vanessa wanted to walk out of the union because Kobe had been cheating on her. She reportedly caught him with another woman and could no longer look past his infidelities.
But as fate would have it, the couple didn’t follow through with the move to dissolve their marriage. Two years after Vanessa filed for divorce (in 2013), the couple announced that they were no longer getting divorced. They made the announcement on social media as shown below:
Did Kobe Bryant Influence His Children’s Career Paths?
Kobe Bryant had four daughters and of the four, two showed promise of becoming athletes. It is highly likely that their decision to pursue a career in sports was influenced by their father. The late NBA legend had all his kids with Vanessa and one of them died with him in the tragic helicopter crash that claimed his life and that of the other seven occupants.
Vanessa and Kobe Bryant’s First Daughter Is a Model
- Full Name: Natalia Diamante Bryant
- Date of Birth: January 19, 2003
- Age: 18 Years Old
- Occupation: Model and Former Volleyball Player
Natalia Diamante Bryant was born on the 19th of January 2003. She grew up in Los Angeles, California, and attended Sage Hill School where she was part of the school’s volleyball team. As a volleyball player, she showed great promise and was one of the star players on the school’s team. Her junior season with the team ended with her having 192 kills and 122 total blocks which secured her school’s position in the regional finals.
However, her athletic leanings are far behind her as she has now been signed with IMG Models as one of their newest models. She made the announcement on her Instagram page on the 9th of February, 2021, a few days after her 18th birthday.
Gianna Died with Her Father
- Full Name: Gianna “Gigi” Maria-Onore Bryant
- Date of Birth: May 1, 2006
- Died on: January 26, 2020
- Occupation: Basketball Player
Of all his daughters, the one person who showed the most promise of becoming a full-blown athlete was Gianna Maria-Onore, who was mostly known as Gigi. She was born on the 1st of May 2003 and went to Harbour Day School located in Newport Beach.
Gigi was the only child of the late NBA star who asked him to train her in basketball and he did that, up until her death. She was part of the Mamba academy and played competitively in U-10 and U-15 games. Gigi had already made plans to play college basketball at the University of Connecticut. According to her father, she was the female version of him, almost like the son he never had.
On the 26th of January, she was in the same helicopter as her father and seven other people when they crashed into the side of a mountain. All the people in the aircraft including Gigi died instantly.
In honour of her passing, her school retired her jersey number. The WNBA also named her and the other basketball players in the helicopter (Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli) as honorary draft picks in the 2020 draft. The league also went a step further and created the Kobe and Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award. For one to bag the award, the person has to relentlessly advocate for women’s basketball; foster positive leadership, and use their time, talent, and platforms to raise awareness for women’s basketball.
Bianka Bella Bryant
- Date of Birth: December 5, 2016
- Age: 4 Years Old
- Occupation: Undetermined
Bianka Bella Bryant is the third child and daughter of the late Los Angeles Lakers legend and his wife, Kobe and Vanessa Bryant. Bianka is still a kid with much growing up to do. Only time can tell what the future holds for her career-wise.
Capri Kobe Bryant Is The Baby of The Family
- Date of Birth: June 21, 2019
- Age: 1 Years Old
- Occupation: Undetermined
In 2019, Vanessa and Kobe Bryant welcomed one more daughter who happens to be their last child together. Capri was born on June 21, 2019. Unlike her first two older sisters who made names for themselves, there is not a lot of information about Capri and her immediate older sister, Bianka.
How Successful a Father Was Kobe Bryant?
While he was still alive, Kobe Bryant had spoken about how it was not uncommon for his friends to make statements like “it takes a real man to make a boy”. This was as a result of the fact that he had four daughters. However, he also did not hesitate to reply with a quip of his own, “it takes a king to make a princess”.
This fierce support of his daughters even in the face of ridicule or jest of his lack of a son was one of the ways that he showed his love and admiration for his princesses, as he was wont to call them.
Kobe was unquestionably a great dad. This was obvious in the way he was with Gigi as they were often seen together in public due to her exploits in basketball.