Vanessa Bryant says ‘hurtful lawsuit’ from mother is attempt to ‘extort a financial windfall’

‘My husband never promised my mother anything, and he would be so disappointed in her behaviour and lack of empathy,’ Vanessa Bryant wrote.
Published December 18, 2020 4:23 p.m. EST
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Vanessa Bryant said Thursday that her mother, Sofia Laine, is attempting “to extort a financial windfall” from her family. Bryant’s allegation comes after Sofia filed a lawsuit through her lawyers in the Orange County Superior Court on December 15.

In her filing, obtained by E! News, Laine alleged that she “has been a long-time personal assistant and nanny” for her daughter and Kobe Bryant, and she “was never paid for her services despite promises” that the late Kobe Bryant allegedly made before his unexpected death on January 26 at the age of 41. In the lawsuit, Laine claims that Kobe had “promised to take care of” Laine “for the rest of her life.” She listed her wages at $96.15 per hour.

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on January 26.

“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 honour any of the Bryants’ representations, agreements and promises at any stage,” the lawsuit alleges.

According to the complaint, Vanessa sold her mother’s house and Mercedes-Benz, cancelled her health insurance and allegedly left her alone in her apartment where “she was left to deal with the painful death of Kobe Bryant and her granddaughter alone.”

In response to the lawsuit, Vanessa took to Instagram to share a lengthy statement. “My mother is continuing to try and find ways to extort a financial windfall from our family,” Bryant wrote in the statement. “I have supported her for nearly twenty years, and she was never my or Kobe’s personal assistant, nor was she a nanny.” Vanessa added that she’s always been a stay-at-home mom, but Laine did watch the girls “from time to time, just like most grandparents do.”

Vanessa, who is mom to daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 4, and Capri Kobe, 1, continued to dispute her mother’s claims on Instagram. “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. She now wants to back charge me $96 per hour for supposedly working 12 hours a day for 18 years for watching her grandchildren,” Bryant wrote on her Instagram Stories. “In reality, she only occasionally babysat my older girls when they were toddlers. As of ten years ago, our kids were full-time students and athletes, and I didn’t have another child until 2016.”

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In the suit, Laine claims that Vanessa “began attending social events” shortly after the NBA All-Star’s passing and that she would watch the children while she went out. “Plaintiff believed this was extremely inappropriate and troubling and told Vanessa Bryant that she should be at home mourning the death of Kobe Bryant and their daughter, Gigi, as opposed to going out socially,” the filing stated. “Vanessa Bryant was agitated by the advice that Plaintiff gave her. In retaliation, Vanessa Bryant embarked on a mission to cut Plaintiff off physically and financially.”

Vanessa said that her mother’s claims are “obviously false,” and she has tried to work things out with Laine. “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,” Vanessa wrote. She also said that she went out looking for a new home for her mother, and a week later her mother went on TV and made false accusations against her family in an interview with Univision’s El Gordo y La Flaca while “living rent-free in a gated apartment complex in Newport Coast.” Vanessa said she was still willing to help her mother financially after the interview, but “that wasn’t good enough” for Laine, who “demanded $5 million, a house and a Mercedes SUV.”

“Because I did not give in to her hurtful threats and monetary requests, she has spiralled out of control and is making false and absurd claims,” Vanessa added. “She is now trying to get more money than my husband, and I ever spent to provide for her while she was alive.” Vanessa went on to say that her mother has “no regard” for how the situation is affecting her children. She claimed that her mother wants to live off of herself and her daughters for the rest of her life “while continuing to collect monthly alimony from her ex-husband since 2004.”

“This lawsuit is frivolous, disgraceful, and unimaginably hurtful,” Vanessa added. “My husband never promised my mother anything, and he would be so disappointed in her behaviour and lack of empathy.”

Laine’s suit against her daughter lists 32 causes of action, including financial elder abuse, false promise and breach of contract, among other allegations. She is seeking damages, pre-and-post-judgement interest and coverage of lawyer fees and costs, as well as any other “further relief as the court, deems just and proper.”

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