Kobe Bryant was usually a private man. His entire focus was on basketball and improving his game. Not known to party or socialize, it’s no surprise the 6ft 6″ guard had no ‘close friends.’
Fascinatingly, for a man so hell-bent on making the Lakers his team, Bryant had no intentions of bonding with his teammates. Even after his marriage, the narrative did not change much. In fact, Vanessa Bryant’s entry in his life distanced him even from his parents. Joe and Pam Bryant had their reservations about Vanessa. As a response, Vanessa wasn’t too fond of her in-laws either.
The impact of Bryant’s lack of social skills was on full display when the Lower Merion High School retired Kobe’s school jersey.
Bryant’s school jersey retirement revealed family drama
In his book Three-Ring Circus, Jeff Pearlman wrote of the time Lower Merion High School retired Kobe’s jersey. As per Pearlman, a proud Bryant invited his teammates, wife, and family to the ceremony. Among his teammates, Brian Shaw, who was with the Lakers from 1999 to 2003, knew of the Mamba’s family drama.
Once in the gymnasium where the jersey was scheduled to be retired, Shaw told Samaki Walker to watch out for the family drama. The two of them witnessed how Vanessa Bryant and Bryant’s parents exchanged cold looks before the ceremony.
Pearlman wrote: “Brian Shaw, the veteran guard, sat in the gymnasium bleachers alongside Samaki Walker and said, “You’re about to see some real shit now.” “What do you mean?” Walker said. “Just watch,” Shaw replied. Joe and Pam Bryant entered the building and sat to their son’s right. Vanessa Bryant entered the building and sat in front of her husband. Cool glances were shot between one and the other. The event was uncomfortable from start to finish—a handful of people honoring a man they didn’t much care for. “It was sad,” Walker recalled.”
Maybe Kobe Bryant was unaffected by the lack of warmth between his wife and parents. He definitely preferred Vanessa’s company and found a brilliant supporting system in her.
Kobe Bryant found a strong supporter in Vanessa Bryant
Vanessa supported her husband through thick and thin. She was the one who affirmed Kobe’s unbound ambition. She saw in her husband what not even Phil Jackson or Shaquille O’Neal could. Vanessa knew her husband was capable of becoming the best ever.
In return, Kobe Bryant achieved everything he set out to. His wife’s support became the guiding beacon in his turbulent life. Unfortunately, Vanessa lost her husband to a tragic helicopter crash in 2020. But, true to herself, she has continued to support her husband’s spirit.