There’s a reason that people say friends are the family you choose — and as many know, the family you didn’t choose can sometimes fall far short of what you’d hoped. Vanessa Bryant, who lost her husband Kobe Bryant and their daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash early this year, is now facing her own mother speaking out to talk show El Gordo y La Flaca, accusing her daughter of having kicked her out and taken her car after Kobe’s death. For many, mom Sofia Laine’s comments about her daughter reminded them of another press-happy parent: Thomas Markle, the estranged dad of Duchess Meghan Markle. Both Bryant and Meghan were faced with a parent making hurtful claims to the media — and Bryant’s response to her mom’s interview may have been influenced by how she watched Meghan’s own drama with the press play out.
Speaking to Univision about how she’d been since her son-in-law Kobe’s death, Laine alleged that her daughter had made her leave their family home and demanded she turn over her car as well, while admitting in the same interview that Bryant was continuing to help her out financially otherwise. And Bryant’s comments to the press in the wake of that interview send a stern message.
“My husband and daughter passed away unexpectedly and yet my mom has the audacity to do an interview on TV talking negatively about me while shedding tears about a car and home that wasn’t in her name,” Bryant said in a statement to People. “She has removed all her diamond jewelry, emptied her apartment that I provide, and put the furniture in storage to appear as though she is without support. My husband and I have financially supported her over the past 20 years, and I continue to do so, in addition to her monthly alimony.”
When Meghan Markle’s father began speaking to the press about her, posing for photos and then claiming that she’d cruelly cut him off, the Duchess didn’t have the same options as Bryant did, as a member of the royal family with strict directives on what she could and could not address. As a result, it was Thomas’ words that got the most airtime — and even when we did hear Meghan’s own words, it was from private letters and text messages her father had leaked to the press, not a statement Meghan had given to the public.
One such letter, published by The Mail on Sunday, has since prompted Meghan and Prince Harry to launch a lawsuit against the paper, and how she really felt during her father’s outbursts is finally becoming clear as they make their legal case — and as their freedom from the royal family enables them to speak more openly about their positions.
“In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, [Mail on Sunday] purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year,” Harry says of the letter Thomas gave to the press. “There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behavior, because it destroys people and destroys lives.”
Vanessa Bryant's mother and Megan Markle's father are really the worst parents of the year pic.twitter.com/ocGiJ6JEXO
— BLACKSWAN STAN ACCOUNT (@BrianYoungeArs) September 22, 2020
Bryant had the option of calling out her parent’s comments from the start, and that’s the option she took — one we suspect Meghan herself would have leapt at given the chance. It may be that Bryant, like so many other Americans, watched on as Thomas’ comments were used to spin story about story against Meghan, and decided the high road of ignoring these comments wasn’t worth it. But even if Bryant had never heard of Meghan Markle, her story serves as a useful warning about how your words (or your silence) can be used against you.
“Contrary to previous reports, she has not been physically present or emotionally supportive for my daughters and me after my husband and daughter passed away,” Bryant added of her mother in her statement. “Going forward, I see what is most important to my mom and it is beyond hurtful. I hope this public airing of our personal relations will stop here.”
The last line reminds us in particular of a line that Meghan wrote to her father, a private plea in a moment when the entire British Royal Family was restraining her from making a public one: “If you love me, as you tell the press you do, please stop. Please allow us to live our lives in peace.”
For Bryant and Meghan both, we hope their parents will one day take that to heart.
Before you go, click here to pay tribute to all of the celebrities we’ve lost in 2020.