In January 2020, the shocking deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant sent reverberations throughout the global sporting community.
Men’s basketball lost an icon who remains an inspiration to younger generations of players. Women’s basketball lost an advocate with a legitimate passion for the game’s growth. LA lost a superhero — a Philly kid raised in Italy who became their favorite son through the sheer force of his success and personality.
But no one lost more in that helicopter crash than Kobe’s widow Vanessa Bryant. The tragedy forced her to become the central figure of intense public mourning. Vanessa also has to deal with the legal and business aspects of Kobe’s death as she attempts to find peace after a terrible event.
Capitalism presents slightly ghoulish consequences on a day-to-day basis. Few are more glaring than when a celebrity’s death leads to increased value for memorabilia.
The object in this case already had a tawdry history. In 2003, Kobe bought Vanessa a diamond ring worth $4 million, containing eight carats of purple diamonds. The ring was part of his request for forgiveness after accusations of rape by a woman in Colorado. The criminal case was eventually dropped. Bryant later settled with the accuser in civil court, but the entire situation was shameful.
Bryant denied the allegations but did admit to cheating on his wife. “I sit here in front of you guys furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making the mistake of adultery,” he said with tears in his eyes during a press conference where Vanessa sat by his side. “I love my wife with all my heart. She’s my backbone.”
The couple stuck together. According to Brides, the ring is now priced at about $5.6 million. For Vanessa, however, it likely has an emotional value worth more than money.