Vanessa Bryant is an American philanthropist and model, and the widow of the late, great basketball player Kobe Bryant.
Vanessa Bryant was born Vanessa Cornejo Urbieta on 5 May, 1982. She was born in California, in the Huntington Beach area. She is an American, but also is of English, Mexican, Irish and German descent. She is the Mexican-American daughter of Sofia Liane.
Having attended St. Boniface Parochial School in 1996 and formed part of the varsity cheerleading squad, she got transferred to Marina High School. She continued to study there, and eventually graduated in 2000 with honours. Shortly after her graduation, she married Kobe Bryant. She was 18 when she got married to the basketball player.
With Kobe, Vanessa had four daughters. They had their first child named Natalie Bryant in 2003. Due to an ectopic pregnancy, Vanessa suffered a miscarriage in the spring of 2005. However, they welcomed their second daughter a year later in 2006, and named her Gianna.
Then, Vanessa’s marriage with Kobe started getting rocky. The tumultuous marriage went through many downs, and the couple even filed for divorce in 2011. However, they went back on it, and decided to get back together. They called their divorce off on social media two years later, to the delight of millions of fans. Since then, they welcomed two more daughters in Bianki and Capri, in 2016 and 2019 respectively.
As of 2021, Vanessa Bryant’s net worth is estimated to be around $600 million. This is an astronomical number, and something many can only dream about. However, Vanessa has gone through a lot to get to where she is at today. It is far from the riches, sunshine, lollipops and rainbows we tend to associate successful people with.
Vanessa’s troubles are well-documented, and most of them revolve around Kobe. After his retirement in 2016, their family life took a different turn altogether. Kobe was always busy with basketball and the life on the road, and his sporting career took up much of his time. According to her, after his retirement, he got a lot of time on his hands, and spent most of it with his daughters, sort of like an adorable father-daughter bonding.
Vanessa has spoken openly of how she wanted to have a fifth child, and for that to be a boy. She wanted to have a boy and raise him, in her words, “a mama’s boy”. Unfortunately, the tragic death of her husband and one of her daughters in Gianna was a moment of massive shock and despair for her. It sent her and Kobe’s legions of fans into a state of sadness and mourning,
Vanessa’s speech for Kobe during his memorial was hugely emotional. She said if nothing else, after everything he had accomplished in his career and beyond, Kobe will be fondly remembered as a loving and caring father and husband.
Following Kobe’s death, Vanessa’s net worth massively skyrocketed. She inherited a massive fortune of $600 million after his death, because she was the sole successor and heir to Kobe’s fortune and companies. Vanessa has also appeared in numerous music videos by prominent artists. Some of these people are Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Tyrese and Pharrell. Furthermore, she inherited $200 million from Kobe’s brand BodyArmor, and on Gianna’s 15th birthday, she launched her own brand named Mambacita, which is a partnership with Danniio.
After inheriting the fortune, Vanessa had to suffer a lot of personal troubles, especially from her near and dear ones. This person was her own mother, Sofia Liane. After Kobe’s death, Vanessa’s life was engulfed by a huge personal and financial conflict, with her mother at the heart of it. She had filed a lawsuit against Vanessa, demanding $5 million in restitution. She alleged that she was her children’s “babysitter” and “personal assistant”, and claimed that Kobe had told her before his untimely death that he would see to it that she is taken care of financially. It was a terrible move from her mother, and it was a struggle she had to go through.
No one can imagine the sort of pain she was in after losing her husband and one of her daughters on the same day. It is perhaps greater than any financial benefit she may have had. It is heartening to see her trying to keep Kobe’s memory alive even after he is gone.
Life and career
Ever since her childhood, Vanessa was interested in acting and performance, and was naturally talented at those things. She longer to become a make-up artist when she grew up. She ended up becoming a prominent model, and has appeared in various shoots. As mentioned earlier, she has even made appearances in some well-known music videos by top artists like Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Tyrese, Pharrell and many others. It was during one of such shoots that she would meet her future husband, Kobe Bryant.
Vanessa is a child of divorce, given her parents separated when she was a toddler. She was raised by her mother, and has gone on record to say that being raised by a single mother had a profound impact on her life. She was inspired by her mother’s efforts to raise her, having seen how hardworking she was and how she strived to raise her independently. Vanessa repaid her mother by doing the one thing she could, and that was being a model student. Many of her teachers and classmates remember her as a smart and lively student, who was liked by one and all.
Vanessa was a student of advanced mathematics, and was a regular in the theatre club. She took an interest in acting, but wanted to become a make-up artist. Ultimately, she took up modelling as a career, and became quite successful in it.
Her life changed when she was recruited by a person with a recording camera. This person was on the lookout for a model who could grace a music video with her appearance. From that moment on, her life took a sharp ascent. Thanks to this choice of career, she met many famous people, including her future husband in Kobe. They grew fond of each other, and started dating when Vanessa was only 17. Dating someone as famous as Kobe comes with its own cons. Due to the fame, Vanessa received a lot of media attention. This was new to her, and she had to complete high school from the four walls of her house.
Kobe and Vanessa eventually grew to love each other so much that they wanted to get married. This came as a shock to both their families, who vehemently opposed any union between them. Nevertheless, Kobe and Vanessa said their vows and took them in 2001. Vanessa was estranged by her in-laws for the longest time, but she didn’t mind it. She has always asserted that she hates the spotlight. As a result, she kept her life and her marriage very private, and tried her best to prevent anyone getting wind of anything happening in her life. However, she has often accompanied her husband to many games, functions and red carpet events.
After the birth of her first child, Vanessa became a stay-at-home mom. Like her own mother had raised her, she wanted to raise her kids with the same values of independence and righteousness. She had four daughters with Kobe, and the family life was her world for many years. However, then came the allegations of sexual assault against her husband, throwing another spanner in the works of Vanessa’s life.
Due to the allegations, the couple’s relationship became very strained and fractured. Kobe ended up acknowledging that he had indeed indulged in adultery, but the assault charges were declared as fake. Throughout this, despite how much it hurt, Vanessa stood by the late player’s side. The strain it caused threatened to cause a dent in their marriage, and they even filed for divorce in 2011. However, the two ended up reconciling, and continuing their marriage after renouncing their divorce in 2013.
In addition to being a top model and philanthropist, Vanessa is loved by Kobe’s fans all over the world. There is no doubt that Kobe’s death sent shockwaves across the sporting community, and indeed the world. To this day, he is missed by fans and colleagues alike. The Lakers’ star man spent his entire career there, and he is adored for his dedication and contributions to the game.
After he passed away on 26 January, 2020, in a tragic helicopter crash near Calabasas in California, it was a day of universal sadness. His daughter Gianna also died in said crash. Since then, however, Vanessa Bryant has kept his memory living. She has spared no effort to let her husband live on long after his death, and to offer solace to his millions of fans in any way she can. Over the course of the pandemic, she delivered his sneakers to his supporters, displayed his images all over her personal Instagram account, and even unveiled a special Hall of Famer jacket that is vintage Kobe.