Kobe Bryant, the face of the Los Angeles Lakers, recently settled a legal dispute that pitted him along with his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and his sister against his parents, Pamela and Joe Bryant, and his grandmother.
Pamela Bryant struck a deal that paid her an advance of $450,000 with Goldin Auctions in New Jersey, to sell more than 70 items from the ballplayer’s past including high school jerseys and several championship rings from the Lakers. It has been reported that she used the money to purchase a house in Las Vegas. Kobe, who claimed that she didn’t own the items, didn’t want his memorabilia sold and had a lawyer issue a cease and desist order to Goldin. Goldin sued Kobe in New Jersey. Kobe sued Goldin in California. Finally, they settled on just seven items that the auction house will sell. Ken Goldin, who runs the auction house said that he expects the seven items to sell for more than $500,000.
After the settlement, Kobe’s lawyer released a statement that included an apology from Pamela and Joe Bryant. “We regret our actions and statements related to the Kobe Bryant auction memorabilia,” it read. “We apologize for any misunderstanding and unintended pain we may have caused our son and appreciate the financial support that he has provided to us over the years.”
So, why are they apologizing? Do they feel they had done something wrong? Was the apology designed as part of the settlement to help with Kobe’s quickly tarnishing image?
Lots of people have speculated lots of things about the relationship between Kobe and his parents, but one thing is clear. They obviously don’t talk. If they did, Pam or Joe would have mentioned that they were going to sell his stuff and Kobe would have told them not to.
Sounds simple, but when you have a bad or strained relationship, simple things are suddenly not so simple. Kobe’s parents aren’t broke – they were paying $1500 a month to keep their son’s things in storage, after all – so this whole thing can’t be about money. Maybe for Goldin Auctions it was, but Joe and Pam Bryant could have gotten a house in Vegas if that’s what they really wanted. It seems more like they were trying to get Kobe’s attention.
In their apology, they thanked Kobe for the financial support he’s been giving them, so surely he would’ve contributed something to them getting that house if he didn’t just buy it outright.
Kobe seemingly had a nice childhood growing up in Philadelphia where his father, a native of the city, had played for the 76ers before continuing his pro basketball career in Italy. Kobe moved to Italy along with the rest of the family and learned Italian while living over there. He finally came back to Philly where he played for Lower Merion High School and worked out with the Sixers. Joe, being a former NBA player, was able to guide his son along and help him navigate what was then a rare journey of going straight from high school to the NBA.
He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets at 18-years-old and immediately sent to the Lakers—his parents were right by his side keeping an eye him. But somewhere along the way, problems developed.
The hitch in their relationship may have developed before, but became public when Kobe was 21 and wanted to marry Vanessa Laine, a dancer he met at a music video shoot. Kobe’s parents, especially his father, were mad that he was marrying her. Depending on who you ask, they were either mad that he wasn’t marrying a Black girl or they were mad that he was showering so much money on Vanessa’s family. Her mother was deep in debt and had filed for bankruptcy shortly before their wedding. Other rumors were that since Vanessa was 17 and Kobe was 21, her parents threatened to file statutory rape charges against him unless he married her. On top of everything else, he married her with no prenuptial agreement opening himself up to the vicious California divorce laws.
Take your pick of reasons, but Kobe and his father stopped speaking to each other for a while, no one from Kobe’s family attended the 1996 wedding and his parents who had been living with him in California since he was drafted, moved back to Philadelphia at that time.
Ultimately, they repaired the relationship but it’s not like they’ve spent a whole lot of time together. Pamela and Joe have been on the East Coast while their son has been starring for the Lakers since the last century.
So, it was easy for anyone familiar with their relationship to see something like this memorabilia debacle coming. But why couldn’t it be stopped? Why can’t these proud parents and their superstar son get on the same page? If nothing else, it’s costing them a lot of money. Had he listened to his father and not married Vanessa or at least gotten a prenup, he wouldn’t have spent $4 million on a ring after he was accused of rape in Colorado by Kathleen Katelyn Faber or faced the threat of losing $75 million plus all three of their homes plus alimony plus child support when she threatened to divorce him in 2012.
Had the parents and son been on better terms, they wouldn’t have been paying out legal fees to litigate this auction house fiasco, not to mention having to relinquish a half million dollars worth of items for Goldin Auctions to sell.
No one not named Bryant fully understands what’s going on with this family but it appears that either the parents are jealous of their son’s fame and fortune or the son is not respecting the parents as parents…or neither of those things…or both. However, for the sake of their own well-being, they need to work this out.
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EBONY.com Contributing Writer