Vanessa Bryant Accuses Mother Of Extortion In Response To Lawsuit
Vanessa Bryant
Axelle Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Kobe Bryant’s tragic death hurt the Los Angeles Lakers franchise and the entire sports world. But no one has suffered more than Vanessa Bryant, who lost her husband and daughter, Gianna, in the tragic January accident.

Vanessa’s nightmare continues nearly a year after Kobe’s passing. Her mother, Sofia Laine, has reportedly sued the widow for financial support, claiming she worked for the Bryant family unpaid taking care of their children and business endeavors.

She added that Kobe promised he would take care of her before his accident on Jan. 26. But Vanessa has issued a stern rebuttal of Laine’s claims in a statement to PEOPLE, claiming she offered her mother sufficient support and wanted to continue doing so even after she went public with her accusations:

“I have supported her for nearly 20 years, and she was never my or Kobe’s personal assistant, nor was she a nanny,” says Vanessa, who is also mom to daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 4, and Capri Kobe, 18 months. “I have always been a stay-at-home mother and my husband and I were our daughters’ full-time caregivers.

“She was a grandmother who was supported by me and her son-in-law at my request,” Vanessa claims. “She now wants to back-charge me $96 per hour for supposedly working 12 hours a day for 18 years for watching her grandchildren. In reality, she only occasionally babysat my older girls when they were toddlers. As of 10 years ago, our kids were full-time students and athletes and I didn’t have another child until 2016. Her claims are obviously false but I still tried, repeatedly, to work things out with my mother.”

She adds, “Contrary to what she’s saying, I haven’t left my children’s side since the accident except to visit the cemetery to make arrangements. … 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 after that betrayal, I was willing to provide my mother with monthly support for the rest of her life and that wasn’t good enough.”

Vanessa added the Bryant family provided her mother with accommodation in the near vicinity of their house and that she watched their children only occasionally, just like grandparents normally do.

The widow also claimed Laina contacted her through a third party demanding millions of dollars, a house and a car before filing the lawsuit.

Three years passed since Lakers retired Bryant’s jerseys

Friday, Dec. 18, when the Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns 114-113 in their last preseason game, marked three years since the franchise retired Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys.

The five-time NBA champion became the first-ever Laker to have two uniforms go up the Staples Center rafters. Bryant also joined 10 other franchise legends to receive the honor of having a number retired, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal.

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