One of the biggest questions circulating during Kobe Bryant‘s farewell tour and final game, where are his parents? During Kobe’s younger days with the Lakers, Joe and Pam Bryant were courtside fixtures at the Forum and Staples Center.
The family became estranged when Kobe decided to marry Vanessa but in later years made up. Then in 2013, stories surfaced about Kobe’s parents auctioning off some of his signed memorabilia, there was a lawsuit that was ultimately settled and his parent’s issued an apology.
In a revealing interview for The Undefeated – ESPN’s new site covering race, sports and culture – Kobe revealed that he hasn’t spoken to his parents in three years. He also explains why he lost respect for his father as a basketball player.
On his relationship with his parents:
“Our relationship is shit,” he says. “I say [to them], ‘I’m going to buy you a very nice home, and the response is ‘That’s not good enough’?” he says. “Then you’re selling my shit?”
On his relationship with his two sisters:
Kobe says his sisters, Sharia and Shaya, have learned to accept that Kobe has removed money from his relationships with them. “They’re very smart, college-educated [women],” Kobe says. “I’m really proud of them. They were able to get their own jobs, get their own lives, take care of themselves. Now they have a better sense of self, of who they are as people, instead of being resentful because they were relying on me.
“It was tough for me to do,”
Vanessa recently posted photos of Sharia and her daughters to Instagram.
Kobe also talked about not completely understanding how his father let a “system” stop him from playing his game in the 70’s. Joe was a 6’9 with a guard’s skill set but he was about 25 years early for that trend in the NBA.
“When I hear those things,” Kobe says. “I don’t really understand them.”
Why should the whims of fate — which system he played in — determine the success of a man’s career? How could his father accept that? There is always a way to bend things the way you want them.