Kobe Bryant’s widow speaks for first time as Los Angeles continues to mourn NBA star
Vanessa Bryant thanks fans for their outpouring of support in an emotional online post as the NBA legend is honored at the Staples Center; Jeff Paul reports from Los Angeles.
Vanessa Bryant is reeling from what she says is her mother's attempt to "extort a financial windfall" from her through a "frivolous, disgraceful and unimaginably hurtful" lawsuit.
Bryant, 38, made the claims after her mother, Sofia Laine, 68, filed a complaint on Tuesday in California alleging Bryant owes Laine for past unpaid work as a "longtime personal assistant and nanny" for the Bryant family, People magazine reported, citing obtained court documents.
The publication said Laine argues in her complaint that before the untimely death of Kobe Bryant on Jan. 26 at age 41, the basketball icon had "promised to take care of" Laine "for the rest of her life."
"Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant's promises did not see the light of day as he is now deceased, and Vanessa Bryant took each and every step she could to void and cancel all of Kobe Bryant's promises made to [Laine]. Vanessa Bryant did not intend to honor any of the Bryants' representations, agreements and promises at any stage."
Vanessa Bryant lost her husband, Kobe, and daughter, Gianna, in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic)
Bryant not only lost the love of her life in the tragic helicopter accident in the mountains of Calabasas, Calif., but also the couple’s second oldest daughter and youth basketball standout Gianna Bryant. She was 13.
Seven others also perished in the crash.
In a statement to People, Bryant maintained her mother is "continuing to try and find ways to extort a financial windfall from our family."
The mother of three other daughters–Natalia, 17, Bianka, 4, and Capri Kobe, 18 months–stressed to the outlet that she has supported Laine for nearly two decades and added that at no point was Laine ever a personal assistant to the Bryants, nor was Laine ever a nanny to her granddaughters.
In fact, Bryant vows she has "always been a stay-at-home mother" and that she and the late Oscar winner "were our daughters' full-time caregivers."
Bryant continued in her statement to People that for almost 20 years the family had arranged for Laine to live in the couple’s nearby properties at no expense "because [Laine] had claimed that she didn't have any money to buy her own home after her divorce."
"My husband and I felt it was best for her not to live in our home. She watched our girls from time to time, just like most grandparents do. She did not take care of business issues or expenses," Bryant continued.
Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Furthermore, Bryant added that Kobe acquiesced to her request to fully and financially support Laine and now her mother "wants to back-charge me $96 per hour for supposedly working 12 hours a day for 18 years for watching her grandchildren."
"In reality, she only occasionally babysat my older girls when they were toddlers," Bryant claimed, adding, "as of 10 years ago, our kids were full-time students and athletes and I didn't have another child until 2016. Her claims are obviously false but I still tried, repeatedly, to work things out with my mother."
Since the fateful day in January, Bryant said she hasn’t left her children’s side except to visit the cemetery and make arrangements.
In a scathing interview with Univision in September, Laine claimed Bryant had forced her out of a family home and had regained possession of a vehicle Laine was using – a move Bryant said at the time was "beyond hurtful" to see as Bryant claimed she was in the process of looking for a new home for her mother a week before the sit-down.
Despite the rogue interview, Bryant told People she continued to financially support Laine.
"She went on television and gave an interview disparaging our family and making false accusations while living rent-free in a gated apartment complex in Newport Coast," Bryant claimed. "Even after that betrayal, I was willing to provide my mother with monthly support for the rest of her life and that wasn't good enough."
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Bryant further alleged: "She instead contacted me through intermediaries (contrary to what she claims, my phone number hasn't changed) and demanded $5 million, a house and a Mercedes SUV. Because I did not give in to her hurtful threats and monetary requests, she has spiraled out of control and is making false and absurd claims."
The widow adds in the statement that Laine is "now trying to get more money than my husband and I ever spent to provide for her while he was alive" and said Laine "has no regard for how this is affecting my children and me."
Vanessa Bryant claims her mother is attempting to ‘extort a financial windfall’ from her through a ‘frivolous, disgraceful and unimaginably hurtful’ lawsuit, which comes in the same year she lost husband Kobe and daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
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In Bryant’s eyes, Laine simply "wants to live off of my daughters and me for the rest of her life while continuing to collect monthly alimony from her ex-husband since 2004," adding, "my husband and I have never discouraged or kept her from providing for herself."
"My husband never promised my mother anything," Bryant concluded. "And he would be so disappointed in her behavior and lack of empathy."
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Laine did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment. A representative for Bryant could not be located and an attorney did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
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