Who is Sofia Laine? Vanessa Bryant's mother claims she was 'unpaid nanny' in $5 million lawsuit
Sofia Laine, the estranged mother of Vanessa Bryant, claims she worked 12 hours a day with no meal or rest break as the Bryant couple's unpaid assistant
Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late Kobe Bryant, is currently battling a fraud lawsuit filed by her own mother Sofia Laine. In the official court documents filed on December 16, Laine, 68, claimed she deserved compensation after working for years as an unpaid personal assistant and nanny for her daughter's children. Besides the 13-year-old Gianna, who also died in the tragic helicopter crash with the NBA superstar, Vanessa Bryant has three other daughters -- Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.
Laine, the estranged mother, alleged in her 48-page lawsuit that Kobe Bryant had “promised to take care of” his mother-in-law “for the rest of her life,” but that "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 honor any of the Bryants’ representations, agreements and promises at any stage.”
In her lawsuit, Laine also claimed that she worked for more than 12 hours a day with no meal or rest break while taking care of the Bryants' children for almost 18 years because Vanessa Bryant gave her a "grueling schedule and detailed instructions.''
In response, Vanessa Bryant said her mother "only occasionally babysat my older girls when they were toddlers." Bryant revealed that her mother was now getting intermediaries to contact her, demanding $5 million, a house and a Mercedes SUV to drop the suit. In her statement posted to Instagram, she accused Laine of trying to "extort a financial windfall" from her through a "frivolous" and "disgraceful" lawsuit.
She wrote: "I have always been a stay-at-home mother and my husband and I were our daughters' full-time caregivers. For nearly two decades, we arranged for my mother to live in our nearby properties, at no cost to her because she had claimed that she didn't have any money to buy her own home after her divorce. My husband and I felt it was best for her not to live in our home. She watched our girls from time to time, just like most grandparents do. She did not take care of business issues or expenses."
Bryant added that Laine wanted "to live off of my daughters and me for the rest of her life while continuing to collect monthly alimony from her ex-husband since 2004. My husband and I have never discouraged or kept her from providing for herself. My husband never promised my mother anything and he would be so disappointed in her behavior and lack of empathy."
Laine once worked as a shipping clerk at an electronics firm when she met Stephen Laine, a middle manager who was eight years her junior. At the time, Sofia was a single mother living with two kids – Vanessa, 8, and Sophie, 18, in her sister's spare room. Sofia and Stephen got married in 1990. When 17-year-old Vanessa was dating Kobe, her mother and father were in dire straits.
Four days after Kobe and Vanessa announced their engagement at her 18th birthday party, the Laines filed for bankruptcy. Sofia Laine had been laid off two years earlier, and a chronic back injury had prevented her from finding a new job. Subsequently, she and Stephen got divorced.
Laine, in an interview with Univision’s Dave Valdez on September 21, had also accused her daughter of kicking her out of the Bryants' family home and making her return the car that Vanessa and Kobe had given her. “She told me, ‘I need you to get out of this house,'” said Sofia in the interview.
Bryant said her mother had "spiraled out of control" and wanted to "back-charge me $96 per hour for supposedly working 12 hours a day for 18 years for watching her grandchildren. In reality, she only occasionally babysat my older girls when they were toddlers. As of 10 years ago, our kids were full-time students and athletes and I didn’t have another child until 2016."
Twitter users spoke up in defense of Bryant. "What Vanessa Bryant’s mom is doing to her and her daughters in the worst year of their life is so repulsive," said one user with screenshots of Bryant's Instagram statement. Another tweet said: "It's so hard to believe someone would behave that way because we tend to think parents would never do this but guess what? There are plenty of disordered parents out there wreaking havoc on families. And friends, coworkers, clients... nothing is ever good enough," while another remarked: "Disgusting. Sometimes family is the worst to you. But your own mom... prayers for Vanessa and her girls."
What Vanessa Bryant’s mom is doing to her and her daughters in the worst year of their life is so repulsive. pic.twitter.com/NUgbdPfMZV— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) December 17, 2020
It's so hard to believe someone would behave that way because we tend to think parents would never do this but guess what? There are plenty of disordered parents out there wreaking havoc on families. And friends, coworkers, clients... nothing is ever good enough.— Citizen Samantha (@CitiSam) December 17, 2020
Disgusting. Sometimes family is the worst to you. But your own mom... prayers for Vanessa and her girls.— Rhonda Borgus (@naborgie) December 17, 2020