Wednesday May 20, 2009 14:37
Kobe Bryant accosted outside Lakers’ locker room
If youâ€™ve watched the Lakers in the playoffs, youâ€™ve noticed a kissing bandit that confronts L.A.â€™s star guard Kobe Bryant as he makes his way through the tunnel to the team locker room at halftime and after the game.
The culprit is his wife, Vanessa. She kissed him during and after the Lakers’ 105-103 victory against Denver Tuesday night to open the Western Conference Finals. Bryant’s wife has made a halftime and postgame ritual of planting a smooch on his lips for years.
In 2000, the former Vanessa Laine kissed her husband-to-be in the Lakersâ€™ locker room after L.A. beat Indianapolis in Game 6 to win the first of the Lakersâ€™ three consecutive NBA championships. Last summer, she kissed her husband of seven years at midcourt in the midst of a hoard of photographers following the USAâ€™s gold medal victory over Spain in at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Sometimes, she gets daddyâ€™s girls, 5-year-old Natalia and 2-year-old Gianna, involved in the action, and they greeted their dad on the court in Laker gold dresses moments after he wrapped up his fourth NBA title on June 14.
Bryant got engaged to Vanessa during the Lakersâ€™ 1999-2000 NBA championship season. They met during a music video shoot while Bryant was in the building to record his first music album, which was never released. At the time, Vanessa was a senior at a California high school, and Bryant was a 21-year-old rising star for the Lakers after jumping from high school to the NBA three years earlier. They married in April 2001, a couple months before L.A. won its second consecutive championship. Bryantâ€™s parents, two sisters, agent and Lakers teammates skipped the wedding because his parents didnâ€™t approve of him getting married so young and to someone who is not black.
Bryantâ€™s marriage experienced a rough patch, like most relationships, when Bryant was charged with sexual assault on an employee at a Colorado resort in the summer of 2003. Bryant admitted to consensual intercourse, and thus adultery, but the charges were dropped after the employee refused to testify and Bryant settled a civil suit with the alleged victim. His wife stuck by him throughout the one-year media circus, including Bryantâ€™s tearful press conference to offer a public apology for his actions.
Of course, it didnâ€™t hurt that Kobe bought his wife an 8-carat purple diamond ring worth $4 million to show remorse. And judging by all of the midgame and postgame kisses, Vanessa Bryant has forgiven her husband.
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