With his NBA career over, Kobe Bryant has moved into a new era in his life as a storyteller -- and his latest tale is an emotional roller coaster.
Bryant, who's the Editorial Director for player-centric website "The Players' Tribune," wrote a rather vague letter to his 17-year-old self on Wednesday. Instead of offering advice on how to handle the league or words of wisdom on how to get along with Shaquille O'Neal, though, Bryant warned young Kobe not to let his riches poison his relationships with his family.
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When your Laker dream comes true tomorrow, you need to figure out a way to invest in the future of your family and friends. This sounds simple, and you may think it's a no-brainer, but take some time to think on it further.
I said INVEST.
I did not say GIVE.
Bryant writes that in the early days of his NBA career, he would buy family members material things -- cars, homes, taking care of their living expenses -- which merely made him feel good at the expense of their independence. Rather than use his influence to open doors for his parents and siblings, Bryant says, he got them addicted to material wealth. That in turn became a problem when he tried to correct what Bryant saw as a grave mistake.
I'm writing you now so that you can begin this process immediately, and so that you don't have to deal with the hurt and struggle of weaning them off of the addiction that you facilitated. That addiction only leads to anger, resentment and jealousy from everybody involved, including yourself.
As time goes on, you will see them grow independently and have their own ambitions and their own lives, and your relationship with all of them will be much better as a result.
There's plenty more I could write to you, but at 17, I know you don't have the attention span to sit through 2,000 words.
That's a cryptic message from Bryant. Fortunately for us, he opened up about his relationship with his family to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne back in April. Bryant called his relationship with his parents "s---" and said that he hadn't spoken to his parents since a 2013 incident in which Bryant filed suit after his parents allegedly tried to sell a large amount of Kobe memorabilia without his permission.
"Our relationship is shit," he says. "I say [to them], 'I'm going to buy you a very nice home, and the response is 'That's not good enough'?" he says. "Then you're selling my shit?"
That context makes Bryant's comments in his letter to his younger self all the more poignant:
Before you sign that first contract, figure out the right budget for your parents â one that will allow them to live beautifully while also growing your business and setting people up for long-term success. That way, your children's kids and their kids will be able to invest in their own futures when the time comes.
Bryant's relationship with sisters Sharia and Shaya apparently wasn't much better. In that same ESPN article, Bryant said that he had to cut off his siblings to allow them to find their own paths.
As for his own family, Kobe and Vanessa Bryant are famously the proud parents of two lovely daughters (who like Steph Curry more than their own dad, apparently). And earlier this month, the Bryants announced that they're expecting their third daughter.
So let this letter be a warning to the youngest Bryants. Your dad's going to help you out along the way, but he expects his family members to blaze their own path through this world. It's that ol' Mamba mentality.