With her husband being a dominant force during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA, a time during which he won five championships and one Most Valuable Player award among many other achievements, it is no surprise that Vanessa Laine Bryant has become a person of huge public interest. Before meeting and marrying Kobe Bean Bryant, however, Vanessa already achieved relative fame as an up and coming model although she would be the first to admit that her association with the now-late NBA star was what really shot her profile through the roof.
Vanessa Laine Bryant’s Life Before Kobe
Vanessa Bryant was born in Huntington Beach, California on May 5, 1982, as Vanessa Cornejo Urbieta. Her last name was later legally changed to Laine following her mother’s second marriage to a man identified by Stephen Laine.
As the story goes, Vanessa’s mother Sofia had been married to a man whose family name is Urbietta. With the man, she welcomed two girls; Vanessa and her older sister Sophie. When Vanessa was about three years old, her parents went through a divorce and so she and her sister were largely raised by their single mother. After some years, Sofia met and married businessman Stephen Laine. While Stephen never legally adopted Vanessa, the young girl still changed her last name to Laine, presumably as an honor to her stepfather or for the sake of convenience.
Unfortunately, Vanessa’s mother’s second marriage did not last forever as she divorced Stephen Laine in 2002. Her daughter has since removed the name from hers as she now largely goes by Vannessa Marie Bryant even though she is most known and identified with the former one.
For her education, Vanessa Laine Bryant attended St. Boniface Parish School in Anaheim, California, before proceeding to Marina High School, part of the Huntington Beach Union High School District in California. It was while she was here that she began to model. She was viewed by many as the next big thing in the modeling world and was thus invited to the Teen Choice Award events in 1999.
Vanessa further had the chance to appear in music videos, as it is reported that it was on the set of a Snoop Dogg music video that she met the man who would later become her husband.
Her Marriage to the Basketball Icon
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After meeting each other on the set of the music video, Vanessa Laine Bryant and Kobe began dating. Six months down the line, in May 2000, the pair became engaged. Kobe had at the time already spent three years in the NBA while Vannessa herself was a senior in high school.
In order to avoid media scrutiny, the young girl had to leave school and finish her studies via homeschooling. About a year after they got engaged, the pair exchanged marital vows at a wedding ceremony held at Saint Edward’s Roman Catholic Church, Dana Point, CA, on April 18, 2001.
In the following years, Vanessa was able to provide much-needed support to her husband who had already become a beast on the basketball court. Some of what he achieved in his career includes five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, two NBA finals MVP awards, two NBA scoring awards, eleven All-NBA First Team selections, and 18 NBA All-Star appearances among many other achievements before he called it quits on his career in 2016. Kobe also played for the U.S. Men’s basketball, winning the Olympics twice and the FIBA Americas Championship.
Meet Their Daughters
Two years after they became man and wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant and her husband welcomed their first daughter, Natalia Diamante, who was born in January 2003. In May 2006, their second daughter Gianna “Gigi” Maria-Onore was born before third child Bianka Bella arrived ten years later in December 2016.
In January 2019, the Bryant’s announced that they were expecting their fourth daughter. On June 20, 2019, the couple announced on social media that the expected bundle of joy just arrived. She was named Capri “Koko” Kobe Bryant.
Vanessa’s Marriage Almost Ended in 2011
Vanessa’s marriage to Kobe almost collapsed in 2011, about ten years after it started. The cracks that would have done the damage began to appear just two years into the marriage when a woman accused the basketball star of sexual assault in 2003. Criminal charges were brought against Kobe as he claimed his innocence, stating that the sexual encounter between him and the woman was consensual. The charges were eventually dropped after the accuser refused to testify, as a civil suit was later settled out of court.
The couple managed to patch things up between themselves, however, in December 2011, Vanessa filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. The public did not have the privilege of knowing what transpired this time around but many speculated that it was infidelity on Kobe’s part. Two years later, the duo announced on social media together that they were no longer going ahead with the divorce.
Vanessa Laine Bryant Lost Her Husband and Daughter in a Helicopter Crash
Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gigi were among the nine occupants of a helicopter that crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas, California on January 26, 2020. The group were on their way to a basketball game at the former basketball player’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks when the incident occurred.
On February 7, Vanessa’s husband and daughter were buried in a private funeral in Pacific View Memorial Park, Newport Beach, California. A public memorial service was then held at Staples Center on February 24, a date that spelled out 2/24, marking both Kobe’s and Gigi’s jersey numbers.