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Kobe Bryant Divorce: Everything to Know About Vanessa Bryant, Prenup and More

Ryan KlockeFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2011

Kobe Bryant Divorce: Everything to Know About Vanessa Bryant, Prenup and More

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    Vanessa Bryant's had enough, and she's going to do something that many NBA players couldn't do to her soon-to-be ex-husband: shut him down. 

    No ring, however massive, could save Kobe this time. It's official, the basketball superstar and his wife are divorcing after Mrs. Bryant decided to pull the plug on the decade-long union. And she's going to walk away rich...really, really rich. 

    That's right: no prenup. No. 24's about to lose a lot of zeros from his bank account, all because of alleged adultery, again. While the paperwork will say "irreconcilable differences," TMZ is reporting the end of this relationship is because Bryant couldn't stay faithful. 

    Ouch. All this after the messy Colorado incident in 2003 where she stayed by his side. And we thought Bryant's biggest problem heading into the season was that he didn't get Chris Paul as a teammate. 

    Now, 2012 is going to get very pricey for Bryant, who is worth an estimated $420 million (through reports vary, as you'll see).

    TMZ has the details, down to the custody issues of the couple's two children and the superstar team of lawyers (who have represented celebs like Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian) that she's retained to cut into that nine-figure chunk she's entitled to. It's going to get messy, no doubt about it. 

    And for Kobe, it's going to get awkward, too. He has to perform in front of crowds and attend postgame press conferences. His career thrusts him into the spotlight, one that's going to get bright and searing as the divorce proceedings wear on. 

    But what about Vanessa? What about the woman Kobe's been involved with since 1999? Most people, when they hear the name Vanessa Bryant, think of the Saturn-sized, $4 million ring Kobe bought her. 

    She doesn't have to face the media on a daily basis, but we know plenty about her because, well, she was married to Kobe. Heck, one Bleacher Report writer blamed her for the demise of the Lakers dynasty. 

    Here's a quick rundown. 

Young Love

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    Teenage love, technically. When Kobe was 21 years old, he met Vanessa, who was 17. He was working on a musical album (seriously, not kidding, a music album) and she was a backup dancer for a rap video that was shooting in the same building. 

    Anyone remember Snoop Dogg's group Tha Eastsidaz? Well, this song is what led to this couple getting together. From there, this relationship was a fast break: met in Nov. 1999, engaged six months later, married in 2001. 

    Love was in the air, and it apparently clouded the young NBA star's financial judgment...

No Prenuptial Agreement

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    Happens all the time. People think they'll never get divorced, that they'll be together forever. Wedded bliss til' the end of days. If that's the case, why a prenup?

    Oops. And this is a textbook case. The word around is that this is what Kobe had to say prior to the April 18, 2001: "[He] loved her too much for one."

    That ideology (and his alleged serial infidelity)  may cost him nine figures. 

Starting a Family

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    Vanessa and Kobe have two children together: Natalia Diamante Bryant (born 2003) and Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant (2006). The children helped Kobe reconcile with his parents who, according to reports, cut ties with the young phenom over him marrying so young.

    According to TMZ, Vanessa is asking for joint custody of the two children, which will allow Kobe visitation rights. 

    They lived together in Newport Beach after Kobe bought a house there in 2002. Things seemed pretty placid until...

Allegations and the Ring

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    That's the ring—the ring everyone believes helped save Kobe's marriage. After being accused of sexual assault in 2003, Bryant presented the monstrous stone you see above to his wife, then 21 years old. We'll let the archives at People Magazine take it from here:

    This past Monday—three days after Colorado prosecutors announced that he was being charged with the June 30 rape of a 19-year-old employee at a resort he had visited—Kobe Bryant, his wife, Vanessa, and their 6-month-old daughter, Natalia, walked into an exclusive jewelry boutique in Santa Monica, Calif.

    Their purpose for being there: to pick up the surprise that the NBA star had waiting for Vanessa—a stunning 8-carat purple diamond ring worth about $4 million. 

    (No, this was not some last-minute apology gift; the magazine reports that Bryant had commissioned the sparkler two weeks before.)

    That last part? Yeah, a little hard to believe. Regardless, Vanessa stuck with Bryant through the media circus until the charges were dropped. 

Busted?

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    "Cheating" is the buzzword with this divorce, is with many athletes whose marriages come to an end. Our brain naturally then wants to be enriched on how the infidelity was unearthed. 

    Did illicit texts get discovered on Kobe's phone? Did the paparazzi snap a picture of him in a club with another woman? Caught in the act? 

    Nope. According to TMZ, it was solidarity among basketball wives. 

    Our sources says Kobe's teammates were blabbing to their women about the superstar's exploits ... and those women in turn gave Vanessa the heads up.  We're told talk of Kobe's exploits lately increased in frequency.

Filing for Divorce

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    TMZ, which is all over the situation as you'd expect, is saying that Kobe's wife has retained the services of this super-stud legal team:

    According to the docs, Vanessa is being repped by disso-queen Laura Wasser and attorney Samantha Klein. Wasser reps oodles of celebs, including Britney Spears, Angelina Jolie, Maria Shriver and Kim Kardashian.

    That's an all-star lineup. The prolific gossip site is also saying that Kobe "desperately" wants her back. Doesn't look good though. In fact, it didn't look good a few years back, either. 

A 2007 Break-Up?

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    When a story like this breaks, salacious details won't just trickle out. No, they'll flow out, a fire hose of innuendo as "sources" dish "exclusives" to the gossip sites and magazines you parse on your laptop and flip though at the checkstand. 

    For instance, there's already speculation about mistresses. 

    Then there's this report from Radar Online: The couple almost didn't make it past 2007:

    Vanessa almost filed for divorce from the Lakers star, four years ago, because she was so disgusted with his blatant cheating.

    "Vanessa almost threw in the towel four years ago. Kobe has always had a slew of girlfriends, and the cheating was almost blatant,” a source close to the couple tellsRadarOnline.com. “Vanessa had consulted with a divorce attorney, not Laura Wasser, who she has hired to represent her now. Kobe promised Vanessa he would stop cheating, and the two went to marriage counseling. Kobe did seem like a devoted husband, and Vanessa decided not to go through with filing at that time."

     

Instead, It Lasted a Decade ...

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    ... And that may cost Kobe dearly. Earlier, we talked about not having a prenup. Now, we'll delve a little further into the legalese. 

    While reports of how much he's worth are all over the place, there is no doubt that staying married for longer than a decade is a game-changer. In California, being married for 10 years is monumental when it comes to divorce proceedings. As the L.A. Times puts it:

    Some estimates put Kobe Bryant's net worth at $150 million. Legal experts said Vanessa Bryant will probably receive at least $75 million in addition to ongoing spousal and child support.

    [...]

    The fact the marriage lasted 10 years gives Vanessa Bryant several advantages under California divorce law. After passing the 10-year mark, attorney Dmitry Gorin said, a marriage is defined as a lengthy one, which means the spouse is allowed to maintain her standard of living after the split.

     

Getting Nasty

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    With any celebrity breakup, battle lines get drawn and sides get taken. Then the snipping stars. The past is dredged up, any morsel of indiscretion or inappropriateness will get thrown out there, neatly gift-wrapped by the tabloids for the masses to devour and sneer over. 

    Enter Kobe Bryant's ex-step Dad,  Stephen Laine. In his mind: Vanessa played this whole situation perfectly to take all of Kobe's money ... just like her her mom. As always, TMZ:

    Kobe Bryant should have known his soon-to-be ex-wife would take him to the cleaners in their divorce ... because she learned the wallet-raiding playbook from her mother ... so says Vanessa's ex-step dad. 

    [...]

    Laine tells us, "Her mother taught her well to wait for the ten-year mark [before divorcing]." 

Want to Know More?

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    Of course, right? Well, the inner gossip in all of us could be out of luck. While there have been salacious scoops, like the National Enquirer's report that Kobe allegedly cheated with 105 women, other details have been scarce. 

    Cases like this are not part of the public record, and the couple released a joint statement saying they "resolved all issues incident to their divorce privately."

    Still, never doubt the TMZs of the world. If there's somebody willing to talk for the right price, we'll know more ...

And the Final Financial Dammage Is ...

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    Well,TMZ did it again with a scoop on this divorce. 

    There was speculation from the beginning that Kobe could lose nine-figures in this divorce, and that looks to be the case now. The ever-vigilant gossip site it reporting that Vanessa will receive $75 million in addition to three  Los Angeles-area mansions:

    Vanessa gets the estate the couple was living in, the estate her mom is living in, and she gets the new estate that had been under construction for 2 years and was just completed.  We were told Kobe was moving into the new estate, but that's not true.  It's Vanessa's ...

    It may not be Jordan-esque, but this will still go down as one of the most expensive athlete divorces ever. 

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