Vanessa Bryant’s mother is allegedly demanding $5 million in financial support from the Bryant family, in what Bryant says is a “frivolous, disgraceful and unimaginably hurtful” lawsuit.
Court documents for the California lawsuit show that Sofia Laine is seeking financial support from her daughter, alleging that she worked as an unpaid and “longtime personal assistant and nanny” for the family, according to People. Laine also claims that prior to Kobe Bryant’s death on Jan. 26, he had “promised to take care of” the 68-year-old “for the rest of her life.”
The court docs continue, “Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant's promises did not see the light of day as he is now deceased, and Vanessa Bryant took each and every step she could to void and cancel all of Kobe Bryant's promises made to [Laine]. Vanessa Bryant did not intend to honor any of the Bryants' representations, agreements, and promises at any stage.”
Bryant said that isn’t true, telling the outlet her mother is “continuing to try and find ways to extort a financial windfall from our family.”
Bryant continued, “I have supported her for nearly 20 years, and she was never my or Kobe's personal assistant, nor was she a nanny. I have always been a stay-at-home mother and my husband and I were our daughters' full-time caregivers.”
Bryant is a mother to daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 4, and Capri Kobe, 18 months. Her 13-year-old daughter Gianna also died in the same helicopter crash as Kobe and seven other victims.
“For nearly two decades, we arranged for my mother to live in our nearby properties, at no cost to her because she had claimed that she didn't have any money to buy her own home after her divorce,” Bryant told People in her statement. “My husband and I felt it was best for her not to live in our home. She watched our girls from time to time, just like most grandparents do. She did not take care of business issues or expenses.”
“She was a grandmother who was supported by me and her son-in-law at my request,” Bryant claimed. “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 added, “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.”
Bryant also called an interview her mother gave to Univision in September—where she claimed that Bryant kicked her out of a family home and made her return a car—“beyond hurtful,” and said that even at that moment, she was still financially providing for Laine.
“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,” Bryant alleged. “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.”
“She instead contacted me through intermediaries (contrary to what she claims, my phone number hasn't changed) and demanded $5 million, a house and a Mercedes SUV,” Bryant claimed. “Because I did not give in to her hurtful threats and monetary requests, she has spiraled out of control and is making false and absurd claims.”
Bryant said Laine is “now trying to get more money than my husband and I ever spent to provide for her while he was alive.” She added, “She has no regard for how this is affecting my children and me. She wants to live off of my daughters and me for the rest of her life while continuing to collect monthly alimony from her ex-husband since 2004. My husband and I have never discouraged or kept her from providing for herself.”
“My husband never promised my mother anything,” Bryant ultimately said, “and he would be so disappointed in her behavior and lack of empathy.”
On Friday, Laine responded to the allegations in a statement, per TMZ.
"Although I filed a lawsuit, I did not make any public comments and was hoping for the court process to run its course without the publicity, as hurtful as it is. I did not want this and do not want this," she said.
She explained that she's "so disappointed, hurt, and wronged," that she felt she had no choice to file a lawsuit. "I am nearly 70 years old, my health is deteriorating, and my own daughter is doing this to me?" Laine added.