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How Vanessa Bryant became ‘Queen Mamba’

  • Vanessa Bryant was the “Queen Mamba” to Kobe’s “Black Mamba,” and they were married for nearly 20 years.
  • When Kobe and the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash three years ago, fans, athletes, and journalists shared their memories of Kobe as a devoted husband and father.
  • He and Vanessa met when she was in high school and he was a young NBA star.
  • The couple weathered infidelity and teetered on divorce, but ultimately they stayed together until Kobe’s untimely death in January 2020.
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The basketball icon Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on January 26, 2020.

In the days after the crash, fans and athletes remembered not only Kobe’s incredible legacy as a basketball player but also his reputation as a loving family man who was devoted to his wife, Vanessa, and their four daughters.

At a public memorial service held at the Staples Center a month after the accident, Vanessa offered a heartbreaking tribute to her daughter and her “soulmate” Kobe. “God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other,” she said.

Vanessa and Kobe Bryant were married for 19 years before the basketball star’s sudden death.

The couple met when Vanessa was a senior in high school. Her classmates were stunned when she caught the eye of then-20-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

Though many know the Black Mamba as one of the greatest players of all time, not as many know the woman who was by his side since the first years of his career.

This is how the Bryants weathered drama on and off the court while growing their family and cementing themselves as one of the most well-known couples in basketball.