Kobe Bryant stopped giving his two sisters money as he felt it was 'holding them back'
Sharia and Shaya, Kobe's two older sisters, have released a statement saying their lives will never be the same after the death of their brother
While Kobe Bryant's relationship with his parents was less than amicable, he was very close to his two older sisters, Sharia and Shaya, who he would speak of very highly despite them having some differences.
Born the youngest of the three, the brief hiccup in their relationship came when Kobe had made up his mind to marry Vanessa, who would go on to be his wife of nearly 20 years and the mother of his four children.
They had met when he was 21 and she was just 17 and had become engaged six months later. They two earned disapproving glances of his parents, and seemingly, Sharia and Shaya as well.
While it is well known that neither his mom or dad were in attendance at his April 2001 wedding at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point, California, Sharia and Shaya did not show up either.
However, it appeared as though they had reconciled not long after, with Sharia even siding with Kobe during his 2013 legal battle with their parents.
Kobe had a massive fallout with his mother over more than 100 pieces of memorabilia from his early years that she intended to auction away for close to $500,000, claiming he had given her the rights to the items remaining in her home.
The NBA legend had subsequently sued the auction house and asked for the return of the items, a process during which Sharia came out in support of her brother and said their mother was only looking in to cash in on Kobe's fame.
"I have frequently heard my mother talk about how the family can make money on items associated with Kobe," she said at the time. She added that she had once stored memorabilia from his short-lived music career in her garage but had returned them later "because my mother has access to my garage and I feared that she would try to sell that memorabilia."
In a 2016 interview, Kobe came out to proclaim that he was "really proud" of both Sharia and Shaya but admitted he had stopped giving them money from his $600 million fortune.
However, it appears there was no malice in him cutting them off, and he said both had learned to accept he had removed money from his relationships with them.
"They're very smart, college-educated [women]," he said. "I'm really proud of them. They were able to get their own jobs, get their own lives, take care of themselves. Now they have a better sense of self, of who they are as people, instead of being resentful because they were relying on me."
"It was tough for me to do," he confessed. "But it's something you have to do, something you have to be very strong about."
He explained the decision again in a letter to his younger self that was published a few months after that interview. "You want them to live a beautiful, comfortable life, right? But the day will come when you realize that… you were actually holding them back," he wrote.
"You will come to understand that you were taking care of them because it made YOU feel good, it made YOU happy to see them smiling and without a care in the world. You were adding material things to their lives, but subtracting the most precious gifts of all: independence and growth."
Sharia, now 43, is a mother-of-three who lives in Las Vegas with her husband Jerrod Washington. Her LinkedIn profile states she works as a personal trainer and facility leader at a Fit Body Boot Camp in the city.
She says she's an "experienced leader with a demonstrated history of working in the sports industry and retail industry" and is skilled in "customer service, coaching, sales, and team building."
Shaya, on the other hand, also has three children and works as the group dining and events manager for ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. She has also previously worked at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino as, first, a Reservation Manager, and then the Restaurant and Lounge Sales manager.
Sharia and Shaya released their first public statement addressing their brother's tragic death late last week and said they were "grieving" along with Vanessa, and his three daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.
"On behalf of our family, we join Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka and Capri in grieving the loss of Kobe and Gianna in such a tragic accident," they said. "We are devastated by the loss of our brother, son, our niece and granddaughter, and our hearts go out to all the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday."
"Our lives are forever changed."