The world has been in mourning ever since Kobe Bryant, 41, tragically died in a 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 19 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.”