After years of being estranged, Kobe Bryant was trying to mend his family back together. But then he was taken too soon.
Barely even a month has gone by and people are still reeling from the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and the other seven victims in the crash. But while his wife Vanessa and his friends were open about their special relationships and the grief they felt, there was just one set of people who must be suffering as well yet unable to share it — his parents.
For a long time, Bryant and his parents, Joe and Pamela have had a rocky relationship. Though the athlete could thank his dad, a former NBA star himself, for sending him on the path of the NBAs, that seemed to be the end of the road for them. According to the Inquisitr, Bryant's parents were not happy that he, at just 21, was getting married to his then-18-year-old wife Vanessa.
The late legend also revealed that his father had been uncomfortable with the fact that Vanessa was Latina, not African American. When Joe opened up about his disagreements over the marriage, he said, not attending the wedding, “Once he decided to get married, it’s his life now,” after which he wasn't present at a number of games his son played in. And it really affected Bryant. "It's not about basketball," he said. "It's about having somebody to go to a ballgame with. It's about having somebody to hang out with. That's what I miss."
But that wasn't the only thing that caused a rift between son and parents. In 2013, their relationship took a nosedive after Kobe’s parents tried to auction off $1.5 million worth of his memorabilia. Speaking to ESPN, he said that he had had a falling out with both of them and they were not talking to each other. “Our relationship is sh*t,” he said at the time. “I say [to them], ‘I’m going to buy you a very nice home, and the response is ‘That’s not good enough’?” For a family-oriented man like Kobe Bryant, this would have been devastating for him.
However, according to People, things may have improved between the family after 2016 when "Mamba" retired from the NBA, said a family friend and former coach, Wayne Slappy.
He told the Daily Mail that Bryant and his father were recently seen sharing a hug at an event and appeared to have made amends. “I just remember being with him up at his camp in Santa Barbara and seeing him hug his dad,” he told the outlet. “You know how they loved each other from how they looked at each other, how they smiled.”
This reconciliation with his parents seemed to be going well. Until the helicopter crash took not just his life but his daughter, Gianna as well. It was a truly devastating time. After the 41-year-old basketball star's passing, a source told The Sun, "It was no secret that there was a distance between Vanessa and his folks after a series of bust-ups when they were dating, including them missing his wedding. That tense dynamic really never altered and Kobe attempted some reconciliations, but then he had his own run-ins and disagreements with them."
"But after he quit basketball he did see his parents again. His kids were also spending periods of time with his father. That relationship was tricky, but they worked through it. Knowing Kobe and his heart, he was considering how to bring about a full-scale reunion one day." However, no one knew that he wouldn't get the chance to realize that dream and they weren't going to get the chance to really heal. "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," said Slappy.
Now, friends of the star have been trying to bring the two families together in their grief. "There are strides being made to bring the families together," the source added to The Sun. "They are both dealing with a deep-seated sense of trauma and emotional fall out over his death. And genuinely trying to broach any full-scale reunion is not a possibility, but there is a hope that they may heal together. Currently, his parents are grieving deeply, but want to be there to support their grandchildren. In the short term there is hope that the problems can be set aside for this moment - longer term nothing can be considered. But this is all up to Vanessa - and Lord knows what she is going through."
We can only hope that the two families find a way to heal together and to try to make Bryant's dream as much as a reality as possible. We pray for his, Gianna's and the other victim's soul.