Kobe Bryant's 2000 NBA championship ring gifted to his father is up for auction

This image provided by Goldin Auctions on Friday, May 3, 2013, shows an advertisement for an auction of items from Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Goldin Auctions is suing for the right to sell the stuff after the NBA star's lawyers wrote the firm to say it could not. Bryant contends that his mother, Pamela Bryant, doesn't have the right to sell the collectibles including his high school letters, a 2000 NBA championship ring and hundreds of other items. (AP Photo/Goldin Auctions) ** Usable by LA and DC Only **

For the record:
3:07 p.m. March 22, 2024: An earlier version of this story said Joe “Jellybean” Bryant was auctioning the NBA championship ring that his son Kobe gifted him. His father sold the ring in 2013 and a different owner is currently auctioning it.

What on earth would prompt Joe "Jellybean" Bryant to auction the 2000 NBA championship ring his son Kobe gifted him?

Turns out, he sold the ring 11 years ago, and now the current owner is selling it again.

The description on the Goldin Auctions website is somewhat misleading, saying, "Obtained directly from the Bryant family, this ring is a true one-of-a-kind, and we can confirm that it is the only championship ring ever given by Kobe to his father." It also says the ring comes with a letter of authenticity from Kobe's mother, Pamela Bryant.

However, Joe and Pamela Bryant provided a statement to The Times saying, “We want to make it unequivocally clear that we have no involvement in this sale of our son’s 2000 championship ring. The mere existence of the auction has reopened a deep, painful wound. We seek peace, and the opportunity to grieve with dignity. We appreciate your understanding and respect for our family’s privacy at this time. Thank you, and may God bless you.”

On Friday, after numerous news outlets had reported for days that Kobe's parents were selling the ring, Goldin Auctions CEO Ken Goldin posted on X (formerly Twitter): "For the record — this amazing ring was originally sold in 2013. Our consignor is the OWNER of the ring and not Joe Bryant."

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It's the latest chapter in the choppy relationship Kobe's parents had with their son during his 20-year Lakers career and marriage to Vanessa, whom he met in 1999 and married in 2001. His parents were famously absent from the wedding ceremony in Dana Point.

Goldin is the same auction firm Joe and Pamela Bryant used 11 years ago to sell the same ring and other items related to Kobe. The current owner — whose identity hasn't been made public — put the championship ring up for sale March 9. The initial bid was for $33,000, and 18 bids later, it is up to $141,000. Bidding ends March 30.

The 14-karat gold ring features 40 diamonds and includes the inscriptions "Lakers," "Bryant," "World Champions" and "Bling Bling." What's it worth? In 2019, Pamela Bryant auctioned another replica 2000 championship ring gifted by her son that sold for $206,000.

Kobe was dismayed in 2013 after he learned his parents were attempting to sell his treasured mementos, including the two 2000 championship rings, a signed basketball from that Lakers team, his 1996 Pennsylvania high school championship ring, sweat suits he wore at Lower Merion (Pa.) High and a surfboard he used as a child.

“When u give Give GIVE and they take Take TAKE at wat point do u draw a line in the sand?” Kobe tweeted, adding the hashtags “hurt beyond measure,” “gave me no warning,” and finally, “love?”

Kobe took his parents to court, saying he never granted them permission to sell the items. Pamela Bryant said in a court filing that she planned to purchase a Nevada home with the $450,000 advance she received. Lawyers worked out a settlement allowing Kobe's parents to auction six items of memorabilia totaling $500,000, and they issued a public apology. One of the items sold was the ring currently on the auction block.

“We regret our actions and statements related to the Kobe Bryant auction memorabilia,” the 2013 statement from Joe and Pam Bryant read. “We apologize for any misunderstanding and unintended pain we may have caused our son and appreciate the financial support that he has provided to us over the years.”

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It wasn't the first or last skirmish between parents and son. As The Times' Mike Bresnahan so succinctly wrote during the 2013 auction kerfuffle: "Bryant’s career with the Lakers has often been pushed aside by internal family matters, the recent court battle over his memorabilia the latest in a string of cheerless events."

Kobe enjoyed a close relationship with his parents and two older sisters growing up in Italy — where his father played professionally for eight seasons after his eight-year NBA career — and in Philadelphia, where he attended high school.

When he arrived in Los Angeles at age 17 in 1996, he appeared on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," his parents in the audience beaming with pride, and the precocious Kobe answering Leno's playful question, "You don't have to cut the lawn ever again?" by laughing and saying, "The good thing now is I get to give my parents an allowance."

The estrangement began when Kobe and the former Vanessa Laine — who was a 17-year-old student at Marina High School in Huntington Beach — began dating. His parents were uneasy with their son’s devotion to Vanessa and also uncomfortable that she was not Black, Kobe told The Times.

Kobe and Vanessa moved from Pacific Palisades to Newport Coast, closer to where Vanessa’s family was rooted in Orange County. Two months after the wedding, he won his second championship with the Lakers and cried as he clutched the trophy in the shower, later saying, “That was about my dad.”

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When Lower Merion High retired Kobe's number in 2002, his parents sat in one section of the bleachers, while Vanessa sat in another section. For Kobe's part, he acknowledged that his priorities had changed even though he wished his parents were part of his life.

“I think a lot of it is just natural,” Kobe said. “I’m sure it’s tough on any parent when their child grows up and starts stepping into their own.”

Later in the same April 2003 interview with The Times' Bill Plaschke, he said he missed his father: “It’s not about basketball. It’s about having somebody to go to a ballgame with. It’s about having somebody to hang out with. That’s what I miss.”

At times it appeared Kobe and his parents made attempts at reconciliation, although the 2013 auction episode marked another low point. So was the fact that his parents did not attend his final NBA game in April 2016.

“Our relationship is s—,” he explained to ESPN. “I say, ‘I’m going to buy you a very nice home,’ and the response is, ‘That’s not good enough?’ Then you’re selling my s—?”

Four years after the helicopter that Kobe, his daughter Gianna and seven others were taking from Orange County to his Thousand Oaks Mamba Academy crashed in the Santa Monica Mountains, killing everyone aboard, the ring is back on the market, a development that is causing his parents anguish.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.