Kobe Bryant’s sudden death in early 2020 was a devastating loss for the world. Unfortunately, while most widows can grieve in private, Vanessa Bryant was forced to process her emotions under a spotlight. But despite an ugly cheating scandal and a near-divorce that plagued the couple, Bryant insists that it was love at first sight for them, and she remained by his side for over 20 years.
Her loyalty to Kobe was unquestionable. That’s why it was particularly troubling when Vanessa Bryant’s mother, Sofia Laine, used the months following his passing to air her family’s dirty laundry in public. Many people are unfamiliar with Laine and what it is that she did to become estranged from Vanessa, but we have the details.
Who Is Sofia Laine?
Sofia Urbieta Laine is the mother of Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant. She divorced Vanessa’s biological father when their daughter was only a year old. She raised Vanessa and her elder daughter Sophie as a single mom until 1990 when she remarried Stephen Laine. (Sofia was working as a shipping clerk and Laine was her manager.)
Sofia raised Vanessa under a watchful eye. As a high school student, she was required to call her mother on an hourly basis. And during her three months working as a music video extra, Sofia was always on set as a chaperone.
But Vanessa’s mom had some financial troubles that she couldn’t seem to overcome. After her first divorce, she lived with the girls in her sister’s spare bedroom. And days after Vanessa announced her engagement to Kobe, Sofia and Stephen filed for bankruptcy. The couple divorced in 2002.
Despite her inability to get her personal life in order, she projected the image of a supportive mom and mother-in-law. When Kobe was accused of rape in 2003, Sofia came to her children’s defense.
“We keep to ourselves, and those who want to talk can talk,” she told the Daily Press in 2005. “The people who say negative things, God will take care of them.”
Sofia always publicly supported Kobe. She was seen at his final NBA game and was also in attendance when the Lakers retired numbers 8 and 24 jerseys. That’s why a certain media appearance after his untimely death took many fans by surprise.
Sofia Laine Claims Vanessa Bryant Evicted Her
In September 2020, Sofia appeared on the Univision program El Gorda y La Flaca and told host Dave Valadez that Vanessa had evicted her and left her homeless.
“She told me, ‘I need you to get out of this house,’ Sofia said in the tearful Spanish language interview. “She also told me that she wanted her car and she wants it now.”
For Sofia’s full interview, check out the vid below:
Kobe had had similar financial drama with his own estranged family. In 2013, he sued his mother and father for trying to auction off his high school memorabilia without his knowledge or consent. The parties reached a settlement and Kobe received a public apology, but it was not enough to repair the damage.
“Our relationship is [expletive],” he said in a 2016 ESPN interview. “I say [to them], ‘I’m going to buy you a very nice home, and the response is ‘That’s not good enough’? Then you’re selling my [expletive]?”
Vanessa Bryant Vehemently Denied Eviction Allegations
Vanessa immediately pushed back on her mother’s interview with an exclusive statement to People.
“My husband and daughter passed away unexpectedly and yet my mom has the audacity to do an interview on TV talking negatively about me while shedding tears about a car and home that wasn’t in her name,” wrote Vanessa. “She has removed all her diamond jewelry, emptied her apartment that I provide, and put the furniture in storage to appear as though she is without support. My husband and I have financially supported her over the past 20 years, and I continue to do so, in addition to her monthly alimony.”
Vanessa also revealed the reason for their rift. “Contrary to previous reports, she has not been physically present or emotionally supportive for my daughters and me after my husband and daughter passed away,” she said. “Going forward, I see what is most important to my mom and it is beyond hurtful. I hope this public airing of our personal relations will stop here.”
Vanessa Bryant Currently Has A House Up For Sale
In October 2020, Vanessa put a single-family home in Irvine on the market. Though the house is reportedly the one Sofia lived in, Vanessa told People she was still providing her a place to live. “Earlier this year, I was looking for a new home for her and, a week later, she went on television and gave an interview disparaging our family and making false accusations while living rent-free in a gated apartment complex in Newport Coast.”
Even without Vanessa’s support, Sofia is not destitute. In an interview with the Daily Mail, her ex Stephen Laine confirms Vanessa’s claim that he continues to make monthly payments to his ex-wife. “I have to pay her mom $1,800 every month and clearly, they don’t need it,” he said.
Why Is Sofia Lane Now Suing Vanessa Bryant?
In December 2020, Laine filed suit against her daughter. She claimed that her role as a grandmother was actually that of an unpaid “longtime personal assistant and nanny.” She added that Kobe “promised to take care of” her “for the rest of her life,” and that as a result, Laine is entitled to a chunk of his fortune.
Vanessa immediately responded to her mother’s legal maneuver. She told People, “I have supported her for nearly 20 years, and she was never my or Kobe’s personal assistant, nor was she a nanny.”
“She was a grandmother who was supported by me and her son-in-law at my request,” Vanessa continued. “She now wants to back-charge me $96 per hour for supposedly working 12 hours a day for 18 years for watching her grandchildren … Her claims are obviously false but I still tried, repeatedly, to work things out with my mother.”
Looks like things have gotten progressively uglier for the mother and daughter since Kobe’s passing. We’ll be keeping an eye on how the lawsuit—described by Vanessa as “frivolous, disgraceful and unimaginably hurtful”—plays out.