Black Women's Empowerment

Vanessa Bryant, Wife of Kobe Bryant, Has a Lesson for Black America

When Vanessa Bryant, the wife of LA Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant, filed for divorce in 2011, some folks were asking what took her so long. Vanessa had stood by Kobe when he was accused of raping a woman in a hotel room in 2003. The charge of rape against Kobe was dropped because the accuser refused to testify, a civil case was later filed which was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum of money and a public apology to the alleged victim–sans any admittance of guilt–from Kobe. Standing by her man in the midst and the wake of the media firestorm that surrounded Kobe earned Vanessa ‘gift’–a ring–that reportedly cost $4 million dollars.

A woman who can stand by her man when he is being accused of rape can stand by her man through anything,but apparently Vanessa lost the will to do just that some time 2011. Conveniently Vanessa lost her will power after she had been married to Kobe for 10 years and was now entitled to half of everything he had earned, including his future retire income from the NBA. So Vanessa stands to walk away from her marriage with Kobe toting a $75 million dollar paycheck plus 3 multimillion dollar homes, one of which was a gift to her mother. Ms. Bryant has done alright for herself.

But don’t count Vanessa out just yet! On Valentine’s Day 2012 Mrs. Bryant was spotted courtside at the Lakers game wearing red, watching Kobe, who is still legally her husband play. She even gave Kobe his customary kiss in the tunnel after the game on his way to the locker room.

Vanessa’s Still in Charge

Vanessa could play this either way. She could withdraw her divorce documents and stay married to Kobe. Or, she could divorce Kobe while pocketing the $75 million dollars, the expensive baubles he bought her while they were married, and the 3 homes and yet still continue to date her former husband. Just because they divorce doesn’t mean they can’t be boyfriend and girlfriend right? This entire situation is a win-win for Vanessa.

So how did Vanessa Bryant, the former Vanessa Laine, get it this good? There’s one main reason Vanessa is in this situation. And here it is: Vanessa Laine had parents that were not going to allow a man to mess over their daughter!

When Kobe Bryant started dating Vanessa after he met her on the set of a video shoot, she was only 17 years old. After Vanessa’s parents found out that their daughter was dating and having sex with a rich athlete, they gave Kobe an ultimatum: Marry our daughter or go to jail for having sex with a minor! You see Kobe was 21 years old at the time he starting courting the future Mrs. Bryant and their relationship was technically illegal.

Vanessa’s parents were smart enough to demand that any man involved with their daughter not use and abuse her by thinking he could date and have sex with her, then dump her when he felt ready to move on. To Vanessa’s parents, if Kobe cared about their daughter then he needed to prove that by marrying her. Kobe complied and the two were married on April 18th,2001. I’m not saying Kobe didn’t love Vanessa or that she didn’t love him, I’m saying that he would have been less likely to put a ring on it as young as they both were had Vanessa’s parents not stepped in and laid down the law.

How is this Different for Us?

Now compare Vanessa’s situation when she was 17 to the thousands, if not millions, of young black girls who first began having sex with an older man. According to the Guttmacher Institute,the research arm of Planned Parenthood, Black and Hispanic women still have the highest teen pregnancy rates despite a 48% decrease in the rate between 1990 and 2008, more than the overall U.S. teen pregnancy rate declined during the same period. The younger a girl is when she first begins having sex, the odds increase that the man she is having sex with is several years older than her. What if black parents of teen girls began demanding incarceration for the older men who have sex with their daughters or that if the man is truly indeed in love with daughters, then he was given the option of marrying her? Too many times have I heard young black girls who are sexually active being called “fast” and left to fend for themselves. Instead of the man being forced to take responsibility for his actions, the girl is eventually unceremoniously dumped or the relationship fizzles out on its own accord.

Vanessa Bryant’s parents were smart enough to know that their daughter could easily become a “hollywood hop” if Vanessa was to break up with Kobe and meet another rapper/athletic artist on a video shoot and being a relationship. Instead, her parents made Kobe man-up, and as you can see, Vanessa is all the better for her parents shrewd forethought.

Parents of young black girls might need to take some notes about how other groups of people demand that their little girls get treated.

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