Kobe Bryant's fans are defending his widow Vanessa from online trolls after his memorial ceremony. Many wondered why Bryant's parents, Joe and Pam Bryant, were not more prominently featured in the public memorial Monday, and they assumed it was Vanessa's choice. Her defenders on Twitter set them straight.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were honored at the Staples Center on Monday in an event called "A Celebration of Life." The memorial had friends, fans and family packed into the stadium, including Bryant's parents, Joe and Pam.
However, the mourning parents did not speak at the service, and were not mentioned by any other speakers aside from a quick mention from Shaquille O'Neal. Fans thought this was odd, and in some cases even insulting.
Bryant was the youngest of three children in his family, with two older sisters. He had a close relationship with his sisters Sharia and Shaya, but he had a contentious relationship with his parents at times. Notably, Joe and Pam were not pleased when he married Vanessa in 2001, feeling that he was too young to make such a commitment, according to a report by E! News at the time.
Still, Bryant reconciled with his parents later in life, especially once his own children had been born. This left fans with nothing to do but speculate about why Joe and Pam were left out of Monday's ceremony. There were many theories suggested, but more than a few blamed Vanessa.
Here is what social media users said in the widow's defense.
Kobe’s parents actually resented Vanessa and him for the fact that she wasn’t black.
Also tried to sell memorabilia of his without permission
Amongst other things
But y’all don’t aftually research before you say dumb shit. https://t.co/TbWkD2qnP3— Dretoven (@Blackkout__) February 25, 2020
Some users reminded fans of Joe and Pam Bryant's contentious relationship with Vanessa, including their rumored racial prejudice against her. This defense only went so far, however, as fans noted many years had passed since then.
'Love at a Distance'
I disagree. Sometimes family members are toxic and it is better to love at a distance rather than engage. Just because you are blood doesn't mean you are family.— Dominique Watkins (@dominoluvsu) February 25, 2020
Other fans said that it was alright for Vanessa to avoid certain family members if she felt she needed to. They noted that Vanessa of all people probably knew who would want to speak, and who her husband would want to speak.
'For Your Own Sanity'
I totally agree. You don’t cut out people unless it’s for your own sanity.— Tish Marie Arellano (@Gidget_tish22) February 25, 2020
Some guessed that the decision to leave Pam and Joe Bryant out of the memorial was for Vanessa's own mental health. Dealing with the loss of a husband and a daughter while trying to keep the remainder of her family stable is no small task, and they figured she did not want the stress of confront Bryant's parents.
Do you know their personal relationship with his family? They did him wrong, shouldn’t they have tried to mend their relationship? they didn’t accept her for who she is. Leave this family alone, they are grieving and mourning their loved ones.— Gamerh Alsafi (@gamerh_a) February 24, 2020
Many people suggested that it was up to Joe and Pam to mend their relationship with Bryant and Vanessa, not Vanessa herself. They felt that this was a consequence Bryant's parents had to deal with on their own.
'None of Your Business'
Y’all don’t know these ppl. Y’all don’t know these ppl. They’re not your friends, your neighbors, your family. You have no clue what Vanessa did or didn’t do regarding Kobe’s relationship w/ his parents and it’s really none of your business.— 💜👑Me a B.A.P👑💜 (@rosa__linda__) February 25, 2020
Some fans simply did not like the tone of the insults against Vanessa. They reminded commenters that they do not know the Bryant family, no matter how close they may feel to them through the media.
If we are being brutally honest you— Clare 🌎🌍🌏🇺🇸🌊 (@ClareKnowsWhy) February 24, 2020
can't blame that on Vanessa. Kobe was an intelligent human being in charge of all his faculties...
There were even some defending Vanessa by saying that it was up to Bryant to reconcile with his parents while he was alive. They said that the NBA star had years to get that relationship worked out, but once he had passed the job did not fall to Vanessa.
How is it her fault that he didn’t have a good relationship with HIS parents????????— gambits girlfriend (@malamarismo_) February 25, 2020
Finally, fans pointed out that the absence of Joe and Pam from the memorial was not just Vanessa's doing. They noted that Bryant's lack of relationship with his parents was reflected in all the speeches that failed to mention them, not just hers.