The Bryant Legacy: A Ring of Contention

The Bryant Legacy: A Ring of Contention

The Lakers’ season in 2000 was brilliant. A very young Kobe Bryant, 21 years old, became an unquestionable star while Shaquille O’Neal scored points non-stop, making the team the best of the season, winning the famous championship ring. The youngest Bryant gave the jewel, in gold and diamonds, to his proud father, Joe Bryant, who had also been an NBA player but never reached the achievements of his son. Today that image seems almost unreal, erased by time and its vicissitudes. A quarter of a century later, the world is different. Kobe married and had four daughters. The Bryants became estranged. They were never that pineapple again. Kobe died four years ago, at only 41. And now, to the surprise of many, it has been learned that Joe and Pam, the athlete’s parents, are selling that ring. They have put it up for auction for just $30,000, although with a dozen bids it almost reaches $100,000. The most surprising, or serious, or peculiar thing about the story is that they had already tried to profit from Kobe’s belongings before, but his son stopped them.

When Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter accident in Los Angeles – in which his second daughter, Gianna, 13, also perished – he left a social, cultural and sporting legacy, but also an economic one. In addition to being a great athlete, he was an intuitive investor who managed to amass a fortune estimated at around $600 million, according to Forbes. However, it does not seem that his parents, nor his sisters, have seen a single dollar of it all. They do not have needs, but they do not have access to the player’s income either. The person who manages his legacy is his widow, Vanessa, who manages everything with a view to his three daughters: Natalia, Bianka and Capri. And, as far as is known and for years, she has no relationship with the Bryants. Just as Kobe himself didn’t have it for years either.

More information Kobe Bryant hugs his mother, Pam, after winning a game in March 1996 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Pete Bannan (Getty Images)

During his childhood, the boy lived in the shadow of his father, a basketball professional turned coach and frustrated by the limited career path (in the seventies and eighties, when he played, he was too tall, big, and not fit into the defensive positions that were then marked for him). Because of his work, Joe Bryant lived with his family in Italy and Philadelphia (USA). But as soon as they saw that the boy had real opportunities to follow his father’s path and even surpass it, they moved to Los Angeles, where they smelled the possibilities of a sports and business career. It was the mid-nineties, Kobe was just a teenager and his parents were guiding him. In a 1996 interview with Jay Leno, with Joe and Pam in the audience, the presenter joked with that 198-centimetre-tall 17-year-old boy dressed in a suit and tie: “You won’t have to mow the lawn anymore.” He responded: “The good thing is that now I give my parents an allowance.”

Only half a joke. For years she paid them for houses, luxury cars, expenses and also whims. Bryant was always very generous with those he loved. When shortly after she met Vanessa Urbieta Cornejo (or Vanessa Laine, since she had changed her last name to that of her mother’s new husband after her father fled to Mexico without looking back), she filled the school where the girl was studying. of huge bouquets of flowers, and she monopolized so much attention when he went to pick her up in his Mercedes that she had to finish her last year at home. It was precisely his romance with Vanessa that distanced Kobe from her parents. They did not like their relationship or its speed: they met while recording a video clip—that time when Bryant wanted to be a rapper—in 1999, when she was 17 years old and he was 20, and on the young woman’s 18th birthday, in May. 2000, they announced their engagement to marry in April 2001. The Bryants also did not like that their son did not choose an African-American girl, but a Latina. Twelve guests attended the link. Joe and Pam Bryant were not among them.

From there the disagreements arose, also publicly. Vanessa Bryant began to take charge of her house, her finances, and her professional and personal decisions with her husband. And the player’s parents were losing power. In a 2015 documentary, the athlete acknowledged that it was “very different for him to have someone so close, after being used to an isolated upbringing,” and that with his wife he had found someone compatible, who saw the world from his perspective. same way.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant, at the 2018 Oscars. Kevin Mazur (WireImage)

The problems only got worse. In 2002 Bryant was already such a star that his number was retired in tribute. Her parents were at that event, but sitting in a different area from Vanessa. In 2003, at an important play-off match, her mother asked him to leave a ticket at the box office in her father’s name, which he did…without Joe showing up. “I knew he wouldn’t come to see me. He never does it,” she declared then to Los Angeles Times, where he went so far as to say that this distancing was “something completely natural”: “I am sure that it is hard for any parent when their children grow up and walk alone.” But at that time Joe had not yet visited Kobe’s new house, nor had he met his first-born, Natalia, born in January of that year.

“It’s not about basketball,” the shooting guard then reflected about the lost relationship with his father. ”It’s about having someone to go to a game with. It’s about having someone to hang out with for a while. That’s what I miss.” In that same talk, the father assured that when his son made the decision to be with Vanessa, his wife and he decided “that it was time to take a step back, that’s all”: “It’s the life of he. We have nothing to do. Our work is done.” “When 20 years pass, when your own children grow up, you will understand what I have done,” he argued. A couple of years later, when Joe began coaching the Los Angeles Sparks, the city’s women’s basketball team, a rapprochement occurred. In 2010, Bryant and Gasol’s Lakers won the championship and Joe and Pam were in the stands again (although at the time it was said that it was not Kobe who had invited them, but a fan).

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, at a basketball game in New York in December 2019. Paul Bereswill (Getty Images)

But everything went wrong again. The most painful blow came in 2013. Then the player’s parents put several of their son’s personal items up for auction, including two school uniforms and that same ring from 2000 that they are trying to sell now, a quarter of a century later. Bryant’s anger was so monumental that even He showed his fury on Twitter, now X. “When you give, you give and you give, and they take, take and take… at what point do you draw a line in the sand?” he wrote on the social network, along with labels that read “hurt beyond measure.” ”, “no one warned me” and “love?” That’s why she decided to sue Goldin, the auction house, but she sued again, stating that Pam was the owner of those objects and that they had already given her $450,000 for them to pay for a house that she and Joe were going to buy in Las Vegas. Finally the parties reached an agreement and sold only six objects to reach half a million dollars, slightly more than Goldin had anticipated. Kobe’s parents released a statement in which they said they “regret” her actions: “We apologize for any misunderstanding and understand the pain we may have caused our son. We appreciate the financial support he has given us over the years.” But the thread had been broken forever.

Joe and Pamela were not present at Kobe’s retirement in April 2016. By then they had not spoken for three years. In an interview with the sports media ESPN that year, The player acknowledged, hurt, that everything was very difficult with them: “Our relationship is shit. I tell them: ‘I’m going to buy you a great house.’ And the answer is: ‘It’s not enough’? And then you sell my shit? He also talked about his sisters, Sharia and Shaya. “They are very smart, they have studied. I am proud of them, they have gotten their jobs, their lives, they have been able to take care of themselves. “Now they have a better sense of themselves, of who they are as people, instead of being resentful because they depended on me,” Bryant explained, dropping, again, that money had been a turning point in their family relationships. “For me it was hard, but it’s something you have to do, something you have to be very strong with,” he concluded.

From left to right Michael Tabb (Kobe Bryant’s brother-in-law) and his wife Shaya Bryant (Kobe’s sister), with their two children. Behind them, Pamela and Joe Bryant. In the end, Michael and Shaya’s daughter. The family went to collect an award for black athletes in Las Vegas in May 2022.Ethan Miller (Getty Images)

Shortly before his death, two other events widened the distance in the family. In 2018, his parents would not come to see him win the Oscar for best animated short for Dear Basketball either. Vanessa was with him, a far cry from that teenager he took to Disneyland on her first date, and already converted into one of the most powerful women in Los Angeles. And in 2019, the Bryants returned to their old ways: Pam put that championship ring from 2000 up for auction, one that Kobe then commissioned for her. She went on sale for $20,000 (its price, for gold and stones, would be between $50,000 and $150,000) and sold it for $206,000.

Now history repeats itself. Bryant’s ring that she gave to her father has gone on sale at Goldin for just $33,000. The auction page explains that it weighs 60 grams, is made of 14 karat gold, with 40 diamonds and in the Kobe cut, with several words engraved, such as Lakers, Bryant and the numbers 8 and 2000. “Obtained directly from the family Bryant, this ring is one of a kind, and we can confirm that it is the only one that Kobe gave to his father. Comes with a certificate of authenticity from Pam Bryant,” the auction house’s website alleges. Its final price is expected to exceed that of the one sold in 2019. What is unknown are the reasons for the sale: need for money on the part of the Bryants? Public revenge against Vanessa? A way to stay in the spotlight? Criticism has rained down on them from the followers of the deceased player. Some even encourage Vanessa to participate in the auction, get the jewel and put it safely away. On March 30, the bidding closes. There the end of this penultimate chapter of the Bryant war will be known.

2024-03-23 04:57:35
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