The world will always remember Kobe Bryant’s tragic helicopter accident in Calabasas, California, on January 26, along with eight other victims, including one of his four daughters, Gianna, 13.
While Kobe’s wife of 21 years, Vanessa Bryant, shared an emotional tribute on Instagram with the millions of fans who’ve shared their love and support for her and her family, little has been seen or heard of Kobe’s parents, Pamela Cox Bryant and Joe Bryant.
Pam and Joe Bryant married in 1975 and raised Kobe, arguably one of the greatest NBA players of all time, and their two daughters, Sharia and Shaya. While the family was close growing up and through most of Kobe’s career, they had a huge falling out in 2013 after the family tried selling his memorabilia behind his back. Joe and Pam were not present for Kobe’s final NBA game, nor were they in attendance for his jersey retirement ceremony in 2017. They were not invited.
It’s heartbreaking to know that they were not able to fully reconcile prior to their son’s tragic death. However, Wayne Slappy, a close friend of Joe Bryant and former coach of the Lakers star, told the Daily Mail that there was hope for the Bryants yet.
“I just remember being with him up at [Kobe’s] camp in Santa Barbara and seeing him hug his dad,” Slappy said. Despite their years of turmoil, “You know how they loved each other from how they looked at each other, how they smiled. [Kobe] was 41 years old, and then his daughter dies in an accident with him, too. His family [is] going to miss him more than you can begin to imagine.”
Kobe’s parents have moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, near where both their daughters, Shaya and Sharia, reside with their families. A family business associate told The Sun, “Currently [Kobe’s] parents want to be there to support their grandchildren. In the short term, there is hope that the problems can be set aside for this moment – longer-term nothing can be considered. But this is all up to Vanessa.”
The day after the helicopter crash, Sharia Bryant Washington’s husband, Jerrod Washington, added, “It’s not a good time to talk right now. I’m with my wife and just want to make sure to take care of her right now.”
While no one from Kobe’s immediate family has spoken out since the crash, a family friend visiting Sharia also spoke to The Sun saying, they are all “obviously heartbroken” and that “at some point, the family will be reaching out but right now we are all in shock.”