Born In: Huntington Beach, California, USA
Vanessa Marie Bryant is an American model of Mexican descent. She is the wife of late Kobe Bryant, the great NBA star. She was still a senior at her high school when Kobe, already an established star with the Los Angeles Lakers, announced their engagement. Thrust into the spotlight overnight, she gradually developed herself to be more than a mere side-note to her husband. As for her marriage, it over the years withstood a sexual assault charge against Kobe and a filing for divorce which was later dropped. Inevitably, she became the subject of contradictory sentiments in the public sphere right alongside her husband, admired at one instant, and disdained at the next. As active members of the community, she along with her late husband, supported several charitable causes, including their own ‘The Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation,’ an organization dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families in need, both domestically and globally.
Also Known As: Vanessa Laine Bryant, Vanessa Cornejo Urbieta
Spouse/Ex-: Kobe Bryant (m. 2001)
father: Stephen Laine (Stepfather)
mother: Sofia Urbieta
siblings: Sophie (Older Sister)
children: Bianka Bella Bryant, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, Natalia Diamante Bryant
Born Country: United States
Height: 1.65 m
U.S. State: California
Vanessa Bryant was born as Vanessa Cornejo Urbieta on May 5, 1982, in Huntington Beach, California, to Mexican parents. She was three years old when her parents divorced and her mother, Sophia Urbieta, raised her by herself, holding two jobs at once. In 1990, Sophia married Stephen Laine, whose surname Vanessa took in 2000 despite not being officially adopted by Laine. She has an older sister named Sophie.
As a teenager, Vanessa Bryant met Kobe Bryant who was pursuing a side career in music back then, while filming for a music video for the hip-hop group, Tha Eastsidaz, as a backup dancer. Soon enough, he was sending roses to Marina High where she studied and picking her up after school. On her 18th birthday, the pair made the news of their engagement public. They married on April 18, 2001.
Kobe’s parents, his siblings, other members of his immediate family, and even his teammates at the Lakers did not attend the ceremony. Later, his father and former NBA star Joe "Jellybean" Bryant would admit in an interview that they disapproved their son’s choice of a bride. Kobe later revealed that it was because she was a Latina. The birth of Vanessa and Kobe’s first daughter, Natalia Diamante, in January 2003, healed some of these wounds.
After her marriage to Kobe Bryant, Vanessa Bryant’s personality evolved over time. Earlier she was a fiercely guarded individual. Initially, following Kobe’s announcement of their engagement, she was overwhelmed by the television news crews at her doorstep and the helicopters hovering over her school. She even quit school to avoid being swept over by the media frenzy and received her degree independently. But, later on it was a completely different story. She was the embodiment of a perfect sports star wife; she attended games and accompanied her husband to social events.
Vanessa Bryant gave birth to their second daughter, Giana Maria-Onore, in 2006. She filed for divorce on December 16, 2011, citing irreconcilable differences. The couple appealed for joint custody of their two daughters. However, on January 11, 2013, they revealed on social media—she on Instagram, he on Facebook—that they have called off the divorce proceedings. Their third daughter, Bianka Bella, was born in 2016.
In 2003, six months after Natalia’s birth, Kobe faced sexual assault charges filed by a 19-years-old employee of a hotel in Colorado. He had checked into 'The Lodge and Spa' at Cordillera on June 30, 2003, as he was having a surgery nearby two days later. The woman claimed that Kobe had raped her in his hotel room on the night before the surgery. While at first, he maintained that he did not have any form of sexual encounter with the woman, he later said that it was consensual, but still vehemently denied the rape allegations.
On July 26, 2003, Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant held a press conference together, where a tearful Kobe admitted to cheating on his wife. Vanessa, in turn, while acknowledging her husband’s infidelity, said that they wished to deal with the issue “within their marriage.” The case was eventually dropped, only days before it went to trial when Kobe alleged victim refused to testify in the court. She did launch a civil action suit against Kobe soon after, which was settled out of court. In 2005, Vanessa suffered a miscarriage due to tubal pregnancy. In a Showtime documentary, Kobe wondered if the stress from the 2003 ordeal had anything to do with the miscarriage.
In 2004, Vanessa Bryant accused her husband’s teammate Karl Malone of behaving inappropriately with her. This led to a heated phone call where Kobe told Malone to stay away from his wife.
The couple faced another lawsuit in 2009, this time by their former housekeeper Maria Jimenez, who accused Vanessa Bryant of "badgering, harassing and humiliating” her repeatedly. The Bryants filed a counterclaim, stating that Jimenez had violated a confidentiality agreement when she decided to discuss their private affairs in public. It, too, was settled out of court.
Vanessa Bryant’s world came crashing down on January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. She is carrying on her life stoically and is taking care of her two daughters Natalia and Bianka. On 11 October 2020, when Los Angeles Lakers won NBA title, Vanessa wrote on Instagram - "Wish Kobe and Gigi were here to see this".
In September 2020, Vanessa Bryant’s mother, Sophia Laine, in an interview to PEOPLE magazine claimed that she was kicked out of the Bryant house by her daughter and was told to return the car that she was given. Sophia had temporarily moved in with them after Bryant's death.
Later on, Vanessa Bryant slammed her mother for giving the interview and claimed that her mother has emptied her apartment for the show. Vanessa also said that contrary to the reports, her mother has not been physically present or emotionally supportive to her and her daughters after Kobe Bryant's death.
Vanessa is also known by her nickname, Ness.