Men’s basketball lost an icon who remains an inspiration to younger generations of players. Women’s basketball lost an advocate with a legitimate passion for the game’s growth. LA lost a superhero — a Philly kid raised in Italy who became their favorite son through the sheer force of his success and personality.
But no one lost more in that helicopter crash than Kobe’s widow Vanessa Bryant. The tragedy forced her to become the central figure of intense public mourning. Vanessa also has to deal with the legal and business aspects of Kobe’s death as she attempts to find peace after a terrible event.
The value of Vanessa Bryant’s engagement ring increased after Kobe’s death
Capitalism presents slightly ghoulish consequences on a day-to-day basis. Few are more glaring than when a celebrity’s death leads to increased value for memorabilia.
The object in this case already had a tawdry history. In 2003, Kobe bought Vanessa a diamond ring worth $4 million, containing eight carats of purple diamonds. The ring was part of his request for forgiveness after accusations of rape by a woman in Colorado. The criminal case was eventually dropped. Bryant later settled with the accuser in civil court, but the entire situation was shameful.
Bryant denied the allegations but did admit to cheating on his wife. “I sit here in front of you guys furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making the mistake of adultery,” he said with tears in his eyes during a press conference where Vanessa sat by his side. “I love my wife with all my heart. She’s my backbone.”
The couple stuck together. According to Brides, the ring is now priced at about $5.6 million. For Vanessa, however, it likely has an emotional value worth more than money.
Kobe and Vanessa Bryant went through a lot together
Vanessa and Kobe met on Tha Eastsidaz’s music video set for the song “G’d Up” in 1999. They were engaged six months later and wed in 2001 despite the protests of Kobe’s parents.
The couple welcomed Gianna into the world in 2006. They ran into further problems at the turn of the decade, which led to Vanessa filing for divorce in 2011. She called off the divorce in 2013, and the two appeared closer than ever.
Kobe and Vanessa had three more daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. They planned on spending more time together as a family after Kobe retired from the NBA. But those hopes vanished after his and Gigi’s death.
Vanessa is working hard to preserve Kobe’s legacy
The pain the Bryant family has experienced is barely fathomable. But Vanessa’s ability to be a pillar of strength during this ordeal is nothing short of remarkable.
The 40-year-old spoke with poise at Kobe’s public funeral service and Hall of Fame induction ceremony. She protects her late husband’s image in court and in the boardroom. Vanessa filed a lawsuit against LA County, alleging that several employees took and shared pictures of the dead bodies at the crash site.
A jury sided in her favor, and the Bryants received $16 million. (Co-complainant Chris Chester, whose wife Sarah and daughter Payton were killed in the crash, received $15 million.) California also passed a law that first responders who take unauthorized pictures of an accident or crime can now be charged with a misdemeanor offense.
Vanessa also relaunched Kobe’s nonprofit. Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation works to empower young girls and underserved athletes. She took charge of his multimedia company, Granity Studios.
After a brief dispute with Nike, she agreed to a deal with the company to put Kobe’s beloved shoe line back into production.