After 10 years of marriage, Kobe and Vanessa Bryant have decided to end their marriage.
Last Friday, in news I totally didn’t see coming, TMZ reported that Vanessa Bryant, wife of NBA superstar and L.A. Laker Kobe Byrant, filed for divorce on December 1 from her husband of ten and a half years, citing “irreconcilable differences.”
Documents show Vanessa also filed for joint legal and physical custody of the couple’s two daughters, ages 8 and 5. In his response to the divorce petition, Kobe also requested joint custody of the children and said he will pay spousal support.
According to TMZ, the couple has no prenup, meaning Vanessa, 29 is entitled to half of everything. In “Millions at Stake As Kobe Bryant's Wife Files For Divorce,” Forbes staff writer Kurt Badenhausen reports Kobe’s net worth as “likely in the neighborhood of $300 million."
International Business Times speculates that Vanessa Bryant may be the next $100-million ex-wife, following in the footsteps of Juanita Jordan (ex of Michael) and Elin Nordegren (ex of Tiger). Vanessa is represented by noted divorce lawyer Laura Wasser, who has worked most recently with Maria Shriver and Kim Kardashian.
The couple released a joint statement on Friday saying they have resolved all issues privately, with the assistance of counsel.
TMZ quoted sources who said Vanessa, who met Kobe on the set of a video shoot and became engaged six months later, is ending the marriage because she believes Kobe has been unfaithful -- again.
"She's been dealing with these incidents for a long time and has been a faithful wife, but she's finally had enough," TMZ reports. "This one is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
In 2003, Bryant was arrested for an alleged sexual assault of 19-year-old hotel employee Katelyn Faber in Colorado. Bryant admitted to an adulterous (condomless) sexual encounter with his accuser, but denied her sexual assault allegation. In September 2004, prosecutors dropped the assault case after Faber refused to testify in the trial.
Afterward, Bryant apologized for the incident in an infamous televised press conference in which Vanessa sat loving by her husband’s side as he offered his public mea culpa: "Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that [Faber] did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter."
Vanessa, for whom Kobe subsequently purchased a purple diamond ring worth $4 million, held and stroked her husband’s hand throughout the appearance, even as Kobe confessed to infidelity.
“I know that my husband has made a mistake -- the mistake of adultery,” Vanessa said at the time. “He and I will have to deal with that within our marriage and we will do so. He is not a criminal.”
After Vanessa stuck by her husband through the rape trial fiasco, I just knew she and Kobe were lifers. But apparently, this woman is fed up… for very good reason. Surely, questions about whether she’s entitled to half and the accusations of Vanessa being a gold digger and such are on their way, as astronomical numbers get thrown about, but those queries won’t come from me.
Vanessa stood by her husband as his wife for over a decade, and raised their two children. If he couldn’t respect the marriage enough to be faithful, then getting half is getting exactly what she deserves.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of "A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life" (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk