Wife of Lakers guard Kobe Bryant files for divorce

Vanessa Bryant cites ‘irreconcilable differences’ in the petition filed in Orange County Superior Court. She married the NBA star in 2001. Their union survived his 2003 arrest on suspicion of sexually assaulting a Colorado hotel worker.

Vanessa Bryant and Kobe BryantKobe Bryant, with his wife Vanessa by his side during a July 2003 news conference, denies sexually assaulting a Colorado woman but admits committing the “mistake of adultery.” (Los Angeles Times / July 18, 2003)

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By Victoria Kim and Lauren Williams, Los Angeles TimesDecember 17, 2011

Vanessa Bryant filed for divorce Friday from Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, signaling the end of a decade-long marriage during which she stood by his side through allegations of sexual assault and admission of an extramarital affair.

In the petition filed in Orange County Superior Court, Vanessa Bryant cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the divorce. In what appears to be an effort to keep the details of their split out of the public eye, the couple said in a joint statement late Friday that they had “resolved all issues incident to their divorce privately.”

Vanessa Bryant and her attorney had signed the petition Dec. 1, long before it was filed Friday. Her husband’s response was signed Dec 7. Both sides requested joint custody of their daughters Natalia, 8, and Gianna, 5.

Photos: Kobe and Vanessa Bryant through the years

“We ask that in the interest of our young children, and in light of the upcoming holiday season, the public respect our privacy during this most difficult time,” the couple said in the statement.

Friday’s news marked an unceremonious end to a liaison that was the center of much public scrutiny and fascination, which began as an unlikely romance between a sheltered Orange County teenager and a rising NBA great. The two met in 1999 when Vanessa, then 17, was cast to appear in a music video. The couple wed in 2001.

Their union survived the five-time NBA champion’s 2003 arrest on suspicion of raping a Colorado hotel employee. The criminal charges were ultimately dropped, but the scandal, in which Bryant denied committing sexual assault but publicly admitted to adultery, tarnished his image and cost him endorsement deals.

“I know that my husband has made a mistake — the mistake of adultery,” Vanessa Bryant said in a statement at the time.

Vanessa Bryant’s mother previously told a Times reporter that the couple had no prenuptial agreement, saying they ultimately choose to forgo one after months of negotiations. The court filing Friday indicated that property rights were to be determined.

Photos: Kobe and Vanessa Bryant through the years

“She just came home one day and said something to the effect that Kobe didn’t want a prenup, that he loved her too much,” Sofia Urbieta Laine said in a 2005 interview.

A final judgment dissolving their marriage will be entered sometime next year, representatives for the couple said.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

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