Vanessa Bryant Pulls Plug On Marriage to Lakers Star Kobe Bryant
By @jschonb on December 21, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
Lakers fans are still reeling from preseason trades and now they have to worry about the performance of their superstar guard, Kobe Bryant, whose wife just pulled the plug on their 10 year marriage.
In the petition filed last Friday, Vanessa Bryant, 29, cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the divorce. In what appears to be an effort to keep the details of their split out of the public eye, the couple said in a joint statement they had "resolved all issues incident to their divorce privately."
The details may be private but according to multiple reports, Kobe, 33, is allegedly a player on and off the court. Most basketball fans admire his acrobatic on-court skills while detesting his arrogant off-court behavior. He may be widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of his generation but he elicits as much derision as admiration.
This will be a mega divorce. TMZ reports that the couple does not have a prenup which means hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. It also means Vanessa is holding all the cards - perhaps $150 million worth.
Vanessa & Kobe Bryant via ZUMApress.com
Last season, as the NBA's highest-paid player, Kobe Bryant earned $24.8 million in salary, and his contract extension signed last year is worth $83.5 million. Forbes estimates that with endorsement deals, which include Nike, Smart Car and others Bryant last year earned $53 million. In recent years, he has added Turkish Airlines and Mercedes-Benz to his portfolio of endorsements. Bryant’s net worth is likely in the neighborhood of $300 million. Vanessa could be entitled to half of the couple’s assets under California divorce law.
The fact the marriage lasted a decade gives Vanessa several advantages. After passing the 10-year mark, a marriage is defined as a lengthy one, which means the spouse is allowed to maintain her standard of living after the split. Did she wait out the 10 years for the payday?
Vanessa famously stuck by Kobe after he was charged with sexually assaulting a female hotel employee in 2003 (charges were later dropped). Kobe famously purchased a $4 million dollar, eight-carat purple diamond ring for Vanessa as an apology. As a gift, the ring may not be considered community property although some lawyers claim otherwise.
The couple first met when Vanessa, an Orange County high school student, was working as a background dancer on a music video. Kobe, already a hoops phenom, was 21 years old when he met the stunning 17 year old. Six months later, they became engaged and wed in 2001 despite concerns from Bryant's friends and family.
At a time when TV viewers can’t seem to get enough of reality shows featuring over-the-top, dysfunctional lives of basketball, baseball, and football wives, Bryant’s divorce heightens the fascination with fame and celebrity infidelity.
Sports fans may be less interested in the tawdry details of the divorce and more in whether Kobe can play through the chaos. He has famously compartmentalized his feelings in the past but the Lakers face more than a few challenges this season and they need their superstar to show up at gametime.
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