Kobe Bryant‘s wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce Friday afternoon, according to reports. Vanessa cited “irreconcilable differences” in choosing to end her 10½ year marriage.
A representative for the couple released a statement saying, “The Bryants have resolved all issues incident to their divorce privately with the assistance of counsel and a Judgment dissolving their marital status will be entered in 2012.”
In the statement, the Bryants “ask that in the interest of our young children and in light of the upcoming holiday season the public respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Vanessa Bryant is being represented by celebrity divorce attorney Laura Wasser. She signed the papers on Dec. 1 and Kobe Bryant filed his response on Dec. 7.
In the filing, Vanessa asked for joint legal and physical custody of their two daughters, Natalia, 8, and Gianna, 5. Kobe Bryant asked for the same in his response.
Kobe met his future wife in 1999 on a music video shoot when Vanessa Laine was 18 years old. Six months later, she and the then-21-year-old Bryant became engaged. They married on April 18, 2001.
This is not the first time they have been through trying times together.
When Kobe Bryant was charged with sexual assault in 2003, she appeared at a news conference, holding his hand. He admitted he was guilty of adultery – but nothing else. Earlier, she had issued her own statement to the media, vowing to stand by her husband.
“I know that my husband has made a mistake – the mistake of adultery,” she said in the statement at the time. “He and I will have to deal with that within our marriage, and we will do so. He is not a criminal.”
The case against Kobe Bryant was later dismissed.
Last year, Kobe and Vanessa Bryant settled litigation with a former maid who accused the NBA star’s wife of harassment. The Bryants countersued Maria Jimenez for violating a confidentiality agreement by talking to reporters about the family.
Reportedly, the Bryants do not have a prenup which means hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake. Kobe Bryant was the second highest-paid athlete in the world this year with earnings of $53 million. He has banked $200 million in salary from the Lakers during his career, and another $250 million from endorsements which currently include Nike, Smart Car, Turkish Airlines and others. Bryant is likely worth in the neighborhood of $300 million after the tax man, his agent and others have taken their cut.
Bryant’s future earnings potential is still strong. He is the NBA’s highest paid player and the Lakers owe Bryant $79 million over the next 3 seasons under his current contract. At 33 years old, Kobe Bryant still has another playing contract in him as he chases the NBA’s all-time scoring record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
His annual off-court income is $28 million a year and is not likely to see any decline in the next few years.