Kobe Bryant's parents: The truth about Joe and Pamela Bryant

Former NBA star Kobe Bryant, 41, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. on Jan. 26, 2020. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also died in the tragic accident. Among those grieving the terrible loss are Kobe's parents, Joe and Pamela Bryant. Though Kobe's sometimes rocky relationship with his parents has made headlines in the past, it's clear that his mom and dad were proud of their son and his career.  

In 2017, Joe Bryant talked to Respect magazine about Kobe's motivation and drive. "He enjoys the game. He likes the challenge," he said. "As a fan, just watching him play and putting up all those points and playing at such a high level at such a great organization like the Lakers. I think that's probably one of the important things." With so many athletes and celebrities on bad terms with their families, it's nice to see that this family unit was in it together, even after the troubles they went through.

Kobe Bryant's father was also an NBA player

Kobe Bryant's father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, was also a former NBA player who went on to coach both in the United States and abroad. Joe was drafted into the NBA by the Golden State Warriors, but according to Heavy, he "officially started his NBA career playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, where he played for four seasons" before being "traded to the San Diego Clippers, where he played for three years." Finally, he took to the court for the Houston Rockets until 1983. At that time, he left the NBA and moved to Europe, bringing his family with him, to play for another seven years.

After retiring as a player, Joe remained involved in the sport. He coached in Europe and then in the United States, where he was offered a role as an assistant coach at his alma mater, La Salle University. Fans of the WNBA may have also spotted him as the head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks, a position he filled from 2005 until 2007.

Since Joe and his son had a lot in common thanks to their basketball skills, you might assume they had a great relationship, but that wasn't always the case...

Kobe Bryant was not always on good terms with his parents

Things turned sour between Kobe Bryant and his parents in 2013 when, according to ESPN, his mother, Pamela Bryant, tried to sell her son's "mementos from his high school days in Pennsylvania and his early years with the Los Angeles Lakers."

"Pamela Bryant intend[ed] to sell: the NBA star's jerseys, practice gear, and sweatsuits from Lower Merion High School; varsity letters; a trophy ...; and a signed basketball from the 2000 NBA championship game," ESPN noted. "And then there [were] rings, for the 1996 Pennsylvania high school championship, a pair that the Lakers made for Bryant's parents for the 2000 NBA championship, and one from the 1998 NBA All-Star Game."

Why was Pamela doing this? She allegedly wanted a new house. Kobe reportedly gave his parents "millions of dollars in financial assistance" over the years and even "offered to pay his mother ... $250,000 toward a home she wanted," but she allegedly wanted $450,000. When Kobe balked, she "struck a deal to get the $450,000 advanced through the auction company."

Kobe spoke about the situation in 2016, telling ESPN, "Our relationship is s***. I say [to them], 'I'm going to buy you a very nice home,' and the response is 'That's not good enough'? Then you're selling my s***?" Kobe was reportedly not on speaking terms with his mother at the time.

Kobe Bryant's baby mended his relationship with his parents

While Kobe Bryant wasn't always on the best terms with his parents, Joe and Pamela Bryant, there were certainly peaceful moments among family members. According to Heavy.com, "after [Kobe and his wife, Vanessa] welcomed their first child, Natalia, Kobe and his mother were able to mend their strained relationship." And it wasn't just a temporary situation. Apparently they were able to enjoy "a reconciliation that lasted for over a decade."

While they faced more issues in later years — including the memorabilia incident — that surely all seems insignificant now that Kobe has passed. When asked if she had anything to say about losing her son, The Sun reported that Pamela understandably responded by saying: "Not right now." A source who spoke outside of Kobe's sister Sharia's house explained, "Right now they have nothing to say but they are obviously heartbroken. There will not be any comments from the family right away. At some point the family will be reaching out but right now we are all in shock. Right now they're just trying to be a family." 

Our condolences to Kobe's grieving family and friends.