Vanessa Bryant, widow of Hall of Fame Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, denounced a lawsuit filed by her own mother asking for back pay for work as an unpaid assistant. The 41-year-old NBA icon died in a helicopter crash in January along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others.
Sofia Urbieta Lain, the 68-year-old mother of Vanessa Bryant, alleges that Kobe "promised to take care" of her for life and is seeking financial support along the lines of that promise. Vanessa Bryant responded on Thursday with a statement that accused her mother of seeking to "extort a financial windfall" from her family in the wake of Kobe's death.
"Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant's promise 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's promises," the lawsuit claims, per the Associated Press.
Vanessa Bryant countered that no actual promises were made when she and her husband let her mother stay to live with the family for free.
"She was a grandmother who was supported by me and her son-in-law at my request," Bryant said in her statement, per the Los Angeles Times. "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."
This isn't the first instance of public conflict between Vanessa and her mother. Earlier this year, Lain gave an interview with Univision claiming that she was being forced out of the family home by her daughter and made to return her luxury car. Bryant says she was trying to find a new home for her mother.
"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," Bryant said. "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."
It is estimated that the untimely death of Kobe Bryant gave Vanessa Bryant control of an estate worth upwards of $600 million. Vanessa swears that she will not concede to these "false and absurd claims" her mother is making, and alleges that her mother not only wants the back pay from the lawsuit, but also wants to continue collecting alimony from a 2004 divorce.
"My husband never promised my mother anything, and he would be so disappointed in her behavior and lack of empathy," Bryant said in her statement.