John Salley Reveals When Kobe Bryant Knew His Wife, Vanessa Bryant, Was ‘The One’

Millions are still in disbelief over the deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the seven other passengers who were traveling in the helicopter that crashed. But few are grieving this loss as closely as Bryant’s wife of almost 20 years, Vanessa Bryant. 

John Salley, former NBA star and friend of Kobe Bryant, recently spoke on the tragedy and gave insight into the beginning of Kobe’s love for Vanessa.

Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant
Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant in 2018 | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

John Salley details a conversation with Kobe Bryant about Vanessa Bryant

Salley spoke to Vlad TV about his close friendship with Bryant. He told the story of being around the legendary athlete as he dabbled in rap music. While naysayers did not think Bryant would do well as a rapper, Salley said not only did Bryant take it seriously, but he thought Bryant was a good rapper. 

John Salley and Kobe Bryant
John Salley and Kobe Bryant |Skip Bolen/WireImage

On the set of a music video, Salley said Bryant was surrounded by beautiful video models, one of whom was his future wife, Vanessa. Salley immediately noticed that Bryant was enamored by Vanessa and admitted that he questioned why he paid such attention to Vanessa when many other women were there.

Source: Instagram

“My friend was Miss Puerto Rico, and she was in the video, too, and she was banging,” Salley recalled. “[Bryant] goes, ‘Yeah while everybody was whatever, that’s me right there,'” referring to Vanessa.

Salley said Bryant knew from day one that Vanessa would be his wife, but he believes Bryant’s love only intensified for Vanessa as time went on, especially during Bryant’s sexual assault case in 2004.

View this post on Instagram

Merry Christmas

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

Source: Instagram

“Think about the support she had for Kobe,” Salley said. “Everyone wanted to talk about the ring, the $4 million sorry ring,” referring to the ring Kobe gifted Vanessa during the 2004 case.

“No, forget that,” Salley continued. “What she had to do to sit there to stand by his side and say ‘Yo, I’m with you’ — amazing female.”

Source: YouTube

How Vanessa Bryant is holding up since the death of her husband and daughter

As Salley explained, the love between the Bryants was everlasting. The two spent half of their lives together, meeting when Vanessa was just 17 and Kobe was 21. They were engaged within six months of dating and married in 2001. Despite their ups and downs, they remained committed to one another.

Source: Instagram

Both of their Instagram feed capture nothing but beautiful moments of them with their four daughters. Vanessa remained a doting wife and mother, supporting Kobe as he excelled on the court. When Kobe retired in 2016, he vowed to spend his retired life being an amazing husband and father. 

He told the LA Times shortly after retirement that he reveled in spending time with his family after spending so much time on the road.

“A lot of driving in a three-to-five mile radius,” he said. “Now, to have that, it’s absolutely wonderful. The time we spend in the car.”

View this post on Instagram

Date night with my baby #disneyafterdark

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

Source: Instagram

Kobe’s Instagram account highlights weekly date nights with Vanessa where they tried to outdo one another. On one date, Vanessa arranged for Kobe to meet his favorite music artist, Lauryn Hill, whom Kobe loved.

Source: Instagram

Other posts show the Bryant family’s frequent trips to Disneyland, which is said to be a favorite for Kobe and Vanessa. Their life at home appeared very simple, with intimate time among the six of them.

Much of their time was spent supporting their daughter Gigi at basketball practices and games where she showcased her inherited basketball skills, dedicated to becoming a clone of her superstar father. 

View this post on Instagram

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

Source: Instagram

As expected, Vanessa is heartbroken over the dual loss. People magazine reported she’s trying to stay strong and is encouraged by the outpouring of support from family, friends, and fans. She’s posted tributes to honor Kobe and their daughter Gigi on social media. And she’s changed her profile photo to one that includes Kobe and Gigi lovingly embracing one another.