The untold truth of Kobe Bryant's wife

Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa Bryant (née Laine), met the famous athlete while she was working as a background model on the set of a 2002 music video, according to People. From there, their courtship was followed by an engagement, a low-key wedding, and three children — Natalia, Gianna, and Bianka Bryant. Kobe and Vanessa also have a fourth daughter on the way, as of January 2019.

While Kobe's high-profile career means his face is plastered on countless television screens and magazine covers, Vanessa rarely gives interviews. What we do know is that she has been deemed an ice queen by sports fans for the deathly stare she gave Kobe as he fessed up to committing adultery when he was charged with sexual assault in December 2003. But one characteristic people fail to celebrate is her intense loyalty and her dedication as a wife and mother.

From struggling to receive her in-laws' blessings to the top-notch treatment she received at the Lakers' arena, here's the untold truth of Kobe Bryant's wife.

She sent her high school into a tailspin

As a senior at Marina High School, news that Vanessa Bryant was dating one of the Lakers' star players sent shockwaves through the campus. According to the Los Angeles Times, a television helicopter was seen flying over the school in an attempt to capture images of the then-high school student and her A-list beau. It was also reported that Vanessa skipped out on her prom and had to finish her education through homeschooling "because of the notoriety," her grandfather Robert Laine told the newspaper.

In a quest to gather up more information on the brunette teen who had captured Kobe's heart, The Times even went as far as to interview some of her classmates back in May 2000, including a student named Graham Finochio who said the buzz around campus was that Kobe was sending "flowers and stuff" to some "chick." 

Some chatter from harmless teens was nothing. Once Vanessa and Kobe decided to get married, that's when their lives really got flipped upside down.

A young and 'devoted' bride

Kobe Bryant confirmed after one of his basketball practices that he was engaged to high school senior Vanessa Bryant, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2000. Vanessa was only 18 years old at the time of their wedding, while Kobe was 23. They were young, and, as such, many people probably thought they were doomed from the start. But they were serious about the life-long commitment they were choosing to embark on. An insider told People a year following their 2001 wedding that Vanessa and Kobe were "very close and very devoted to one another," adding that Vanessa had even gotten over her fear of flying to travel to Kobe's high school in Lower Merion, Pa. to his jersey retirement ceremony. Now that's what we call love!

But her dedication to her husband and their marriage would be put to the test just a couple of years later. More on that scandal in a bit. 

Kobe's parents reportedly didn't approve of Vanessa

Before she even walked down the aisle in her Vera Wang-designed "glamazon-mermaid" wedding gown, drama was at an all-time high between Kobe and Vanessa Bryant and her future in-laws. According to the Los Angeles Times, Kobe Bryant's parents, Joe and Pamela Bryant, didn't even show up to the couple's 2001 Dana Point, Calif. nuptials. Further strain was caused when the newlyweds packed up and moved from Pacific Palisades, Calif. to the Newport Coast, "closer to where Vanessa's family was rooted in Orange County."

In a 2003 interview with The Times, Kobe reportedly told the newspaper his parents were uncomfortable with his "devotion" to Vanessa, and they also weren't pleased that he was marrying a Latina woman instead of tying the knot with an African-American woman.

As of this writing, rumors still point to an icy relationship between the elder Bryants and their son and daughter-in-law. In a 2016 piece by ESPN, it was reported that Kobe hadn't "spoken to his parents in nearly three years," after they attempted to "auction off his high school memorabilia without his consent." Joe and Pam seemed to be absent when the Los Angeles Lakers retired Kobe's two jerseys, numbers 8 and 24, in December 2017, according to Entertainment Tonight, which further pushed the narrative that things were still chilly between them. 

Kobe blames himself for their tragic loss

A little over two years after getting married, Kobe Bryant's wife's hopes and dreams of a perfect union were shattered when her husband was accused of sexually assaulting a Colorado hotel employee in 2003. Kobe Bryant appeared in the now-infamous televised news conference with a stoic —yet visibly defeated — Vanessa Bryant by his side. "You're my backbone. You're a blessing. You're a piece of my heart. You're the air I breathe," Kobe told Vanessa as tears rolled down his face (via People). "And you're the strongest person I know, and I'm so sorry for having to put you through this and having to put our family through this."

The criminal case against Kobe Bryant was dropped in September 2004 after the alleged victim refused to testify, the Los Angeles Times reported, but the scandal continued to destroy Vanessa's life. 

During the Showtime documentary Kobe Bryant's Muse (via New York Daily News), Kobe revealed Vanessa had been pregnant but suffered a miscarriage in early 2005. Kobe blamed himself for the loss, stating that Vanessa was dealing with too much stress in regards to the sexual assault allegations. "We should be building our family," he said. "But because of my mistake, because of this tough year, we lost a baby."

Her former stepdad claimed she's after Kobe's money

The state of their marriage made headlines at what seemed like every press outlet, including CNN, when Kobe Bryant was charged with sexual assault in 2003. While the felony charges were later dropped, Kobe would eventually settle a civil lawsuit with his accuser out of court, according to the Los Angeles Times. It was presumed that Vanessa Bryant forgave him for his indiscretion and the major public embarrassment, but their marital woes continued.

After ten years of marriage, Vanessa filed for divorce in 2011, and it was speculated that she would receive half of Kobe's $150 million fortune, according to The Cut. Some saw the divorce as something that was a long time coming, while Vanessa's ex-stepfather, Stephen Laine, called it nothing more than a well-calculated scheme. While speaking with TMZ, Stephen said he believed Vanessa intentionally waited for her marriage's ten-year mark. "In California … it's considered a long term marriage and then she gets paid for life or until she remarries … just like her mother is doing to me," he said.

He added that Vanessa's mom had "taught her well" — pretty much implying that Vanessa was a gold digger! But she proved him wrong when she told The Cut in 2012 that she and Kobe were working on a reconciliation. As of this writing, they appear to be back on track and happier than ever, so take that, Stephen!

This busy mom doesn't need a nanny

With Kobe Bryant being labeled "one of the highest-paid players in the NBA for much of his career," according to USA Today, surely Vanessa Bryant has anything and everything her heart desires. However, despite being a multi-millionaire, there's one thing she won't be spending her money on: a nanny.

Vanessa told The Cut back in 2012 that, as a mom, her days are extremely busy. She wakes up at 6:30 every morning to shuttle her kids around town and take them to their sports practices. So why won't she break down and get some help? "That's the way I was raised," she said, in regards to her raising her children all on her own. Kudos to her!

By the way, that interview was conducted back when Vanessa only had two daughters. So there will be no judgement from us if she changes her tune after her fourth baby is born.

She showers her mom with gifts

For years, Vanessa Bryant managed to keep a low profile … up until her mom, Sophia Laine, and stepdad, Stephen Laine, filed for divorce in 2003. At the time, Vanessa was just getting settled into her life as Mrs. Bryant, and dealing with her parents' legal issue likely put a damper on things.

So, what did Vanessa have to do with the dissolution of their marriage? Her mom, who the New York Post described as a "10th grade drop-out," was seeking spousal support from Stephen, since Kobe and Vanessa had reportedly stopped giving her financial support. Throughout the years, Vanessa and her husband had showered Sophia with gifts, including "a $120,000 retirement nest egg, a $90,000 Mercedes Benz, and $50,000 in furniture."

TMZ reported the generosity went way further than that though. Vanessa and Kobe reportedly allowed Sophia to live in a "$3.2 million house." When the pad was put on the market and sold, they moved her into "another multi-million dollar mansion nearby."

If you're not Vanessa Bryant, GTFO the tunnel!

Being the wife of a basketball champion has its perks. For one, you have access to a helicopter to bypass the hectic traffic on the Los Angeles freeways. And you're treated like royalty around the Lakers' arena, the Staples Center.

During a revealing interview with The Cut — when her husband was still on the Lakers' roster — Vanessa Bryant boasted about having elite "access" around the venue that other players' wives weren't blessed with. In particular, the tunnel where the team would enter and exit the basketball court is typically off-limits for most significant others, unless you are Mrs. Kobe Bryant, that is. "If you notice, I am the only one allowed in that tunnel," she said. 

She went on to add she was granted access because she didn't like giving Kobe a smooch after his games "in front of all the cameras." So she was allowed to hide out in the tunnel to "get away from [the cameras]."

Losers need not apply

Most people wonder why Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa Bryant, doesn't give many interviews, and perhaps it's because her words are often misconstrued. Case in point: her 2012 interview with The Cut. When asked if she enjoyed watching her husband on the basketball court, she started off by explaining that she loved the sport and then her answer went in an entirely different direction. "I certainly would not want to be married to somebody that can't win championships," she said. "If you're sacrificing time away from my family and myself for the benefit of winning championships, then winning a championship should happen every single year."

Kobe Bryant didn't exactly win an NBA title "every single year," but he did take home five championship rings during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Sports Illustrated reported. That was obviously good enough for Vanessa.

Still, many people were up in arms by her statement, but Vanessa had already retreated back into the confines of her sheltered and privileged life to be bothered to offer up an explanation. Instead, Deadspin took it upon themselves to respond on her behalf. "You've got a loved one who devotes nine months of the year to their job — wouldn't you want that long season to come to something?" they wrote.

Okay, we get it. No losers allowed!