Fans of Lakers star Kobe Bryant could see him both on the basketball court and in divorce court this season.
Vanessa Bryant, his wife of 10 years, filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. Kobe Bryant filed a response, and in a joint statement the couple said they had agreed to terms of the divorce and requested privacy. They have two daughters, ages 8 and 5. Both parents are seeking joint custody.
Issues regarding the division of property still were to be settled, according to the court records.
Southern California media reported that the Bryants never signed a prenuptial agreement, meaning Vanessa Bryant could walk away with half of his estimated $360 million fortune.
Bryant has several endorsement contracts, including one with Nike, and is in the first year of a three-year contract extension that will pay him almost $90 million to stay with the Lakers to the end of the 2013-14 season.
Bryant and Vanessa Laine married in April 2001 in a private ceremony when she was 18 and he was 22. To outsiders, their marriage seemingly had endured a highly publicized incident in 2003 when an employee at a Colorado hotel accused Bryant of rape, leading to his arrest. Bryant confessed to infidelity and said his encounter with the woman was consensual. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges.
The divorce is expected to be finalized in court in 2012. The Orange County Superior Court has yet to schedule any proceedings.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Wife of Lakers guard Kobe Bryant files for divorce,” Victoria Kim and Lauren Williams, Dec. 17, 2011