A lasting love. Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant’s decades-long romance came to a tragic end when the NBA legend died on January 26, 2020. Despite their relationship’s heartbreaking conclusion, their romance was filled with many highs over the years.
The love between Kobe and Vanessa began not long after the duo first met in November 1999. The couple were engaged six months into their whirlwind romance, and they later tied the knot in the spring of 2001. During the course of their marriage, the pair welcomed four daughters: Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, and Capri.
In January 2020, Kobe revealed the key to his marriage’s success during an appearance on Showtime Basketball’s All the Smoke. He noted on the YouTube series that “commitment” and the “competitiveness of ‘We’re going to succeed’” kept the couple going throughout the years.
“We’ve seen couples that have been, like, 85 years old and you look and you’re like, ‘Oh man, such an old, sweet couple,’ and I’d go talk to them because I wanna know … ,” the Los Angeles Lakers star said at the time. “One time a guy goes, ‘Yeah it’s great, but she just kicked me out of the bed last night, I was sleeping on the couch last two nights.’”
Kobe argued that the highs and lows are an essential element to a lasting marriage. “That’s all the beauty of it: having the persistence and determination to work through things — very, very tough things — and we’ve been able to do that,” he admitted.
The pair’s marriage has survived many hurdles, from Kobe’s sexual misconduct allegations to a devastating miscarriage. The pair initially announced their plans to separate in 2011, but they later called off the divorce proceedings and opted to stay together in 2013.
“We are pleased to announce that we have reconciled,” Vanessa wrote via Instagram in January 2013. “Our divorce action will be dismissed. We are looking forward to our future together.”
Kobe and his second eldest daughter Gianna died in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California, in January 2020. Authorities confirmed that the pair died along with seven others while flying in the late athlete’s helicopter. When the rotorcraft crashed onto a hillside, it erupted into flames. Kobe was 41 and Gigi was 13.
After filing a lawsuit against L.A. first responders who took photos of the crash site — and shared them among friends and colleagues — Vanessa was awarded $16 million in August 2022. Her co-plaintiff, Chris Chester, won $15 million. His wife and daughter were killed alongside Kobe and Gianna in the crash.
Scroll down to explore Kobe and Vanessa’s romance throughout the years.