Kobe Bryant Father: All About Joe Bryant

Joe Bryant (Joseph Washington Bryant) is the father of famous American basketball player Kobe Bryant. Kobe played in the NBA for around two decades, winning five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Although he was not as successful as his son, Joe Bryant also had a long professional career. He was in the NBA for almost eight years before moving abroad to continue his league career.

Joe Bryant with young Kobe Bryant (Source: PopCulture.com)
Joe Bryant with young Kobe Bryant (Source: PopCulture.com)

Kobe indeed learned a lot from his father to become one of the greatest basketball players ever. He has acknowledged it several times in the media, but the father-son duo had a somewhat complicated relationship.

There was a time when Joe used to be a frequent observer of his son’s game, but that had become rarer during Kobe’s last NBA years. He did not even bother to come to his son’s retirement ceremony in 2016.

However, there are reasons behind it. 

Of course, we don’t know everything concerning their private life, but we have tried to give as much information as possible in this article beneath. 

Quick Facts

Full NameJoseph Washington Bryant
Known As Joe Bryant
NicknameJellybean
Date of BirthOctober 19, 1954
Age68 years old
GenderMale
Sexual OrientationStraight
Height2.06 m (6 feet 9 inches)
Weight175 lb (80 kg)
Zodiac SignLibra
Birth PlacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, the USA
ReligionChristian
NationalityAmerican
EthnicityAfrican-American
Eye ColorLight Brown
Skin ColorDark
TattoosNo
Marital StatusMarried
WifePamela “Pam” Bryant
KidsSharia Bryant, Shaya Bryant, Kobe Bryant
Father’s NameJoseph Washington Bryant Sr.
Mother’s NameGeorgia Marie 
High SchoolJohn Bartram High School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
College NameLa Salle University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
ProfessionBasketball Player
NBA draft1975 / Round: 1 / 14th pick overall
Active Years1975 – 1991
Jersey Numbers 22, 23
Net Worth$5 million
Social MediaNot available
Merch of Kobe BryantThe Mamba Mentality: How I Play (Hardcover), Kobe Bryant: The Greatest of All (Prime Video)
Last UpdateNovember 2022

Kobe Bryant Father | Early Life, Family & Education

Joseph Washington Bryant, popularly known as Joe Bryant, was born on October 19, 1954, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. He is the son of Joseph Washington Bryant and Georgia Marie.

Although Joe’s father was previously from Georgia state, they had migrated to Pennsylvania before he was born. Consequently, his parents raised him in Philadelphia, and he stayed there until his NBA debut. 

As for his education, Bryant attended John Bartram High School after completing his middle school education at a local school nearby his residence. He later enrolled at La Salle University in the same state for his higher education.

However, he dropped out of college after finishing his second year of college.

Kobe Bryant Father | Basketball Career

Joe Bryant played basketball for the John Bartram High School and La Salle Explorers before entering the NBA to play basketball league. While with the Explorers, Bryant had a very successful career.

Joe played 26 matches in his first season and finished it with an average of 18.7 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. His performance was even better in the sophomore season.

The power forward from Philly eventually felt confident to try for the NBA after he finished his sophomore season and declared for the NBA draft in 1975. The Golden State Warriors chose him as the 14th overall pick in the draft’s first round.

Joe Bryant with the Philadelphia 76ers (Source: New York Post)
Joe Bryant with the Philadelphia 76ers (Source: New York Post)

Famously nicknamed “Jellybean,” Joe played around eight seasons in the NBA until ’83. Sadly, his NBA career was poor from the start, and he did not pick momentum until he reached the fifth season.

However, his latter seasons were somewhat commendable. After the Houston Rockets released him, he traveled to Europe to continue his professional basketball career.

Bryant played league basketball for various clubs in Italy and France for almost eight years. He finally decided to retire from all game formats in 1992 and started his coaching career.

Coaching Career

Joe’s first coaching experience was in 1992 when the US Armed Force in Italy hired him as their coach. Soon after, he returned to America and served as a head coach for the Akiba Hebrew Academy in Pennsylvania.

He later coached for various teams in America and abroad, including the WNBA team, Los Angeles Sparks, in 2011. He eventually decided to leave his coaching career in 2015 after he served as a head coach for the Japanese club, Rizing Fukuoka.

Kobe Bryant Father | Age, Weight & Height

Joe Bryant is 68 years old. Bryant stands 2.06 meters (6 feet 9 inches) tall.

However, he is pretty lightweight for his height. The retired professional athlete currently weighs around 185 lb (84 kg).

Besides that, Joe has lost his hair, maybe because of aging, and he is completely bald. Speaking more of his facial features, he has dark brown eyes and wears glasses. In addition, although clean shaved, he usually keeps a little goatee to enhance his looks.

Kobe Bryant Father | Net Worth

According to various sites on the Internet, Joe Bryant has a net worth of around $5 million. It may be true as he had played a professional basketball career of over fifteen years, and as he was one of the top NBA picks, he had good earnings from his playing career.

In addition, he accumulated more amount throughout his coaching career, spanning over twenty years.

However, the wealthiest member of his family was his son, Kobe, with a net worth of around $600 million. 

Click here to read about Joe Smith, a former NBA player who is now almost broke even though he had earned more than $60 million from his NBA career!

Kobe Bryant Father | Personal Life

Joe Bryant is married to an American socialite named Pamela Bryant, commonly referred to as Pam. The two had tied their knots in 1975, and they have not separated even once in their almost half-century-long relationship.

Like Joe, Pam, too, was from Philadelphia, and the two had known each other before Joe started his NBA career. Although Joe saw her frequently while Pam visited her relative, he initially had no courage to approach her.

Joe Bryant and his wife Pamela Bryant (Source: Extra TV)
Joe Bryant and his wife, Pamela Bryant (Source: Extra TV)

However, he had already told his friends that he would one day marry her. After many attempts, he finally proposed to her in 1974 and dated for about seven months before marrying her in 1975.

Joe had three kids with Pam Bryant. Their first daughter, Sharia, was born a year after their wedding in 1976. Similarly, their second daughter, Shaya Bryant, was born on July 30, 1977.

Now, both their daughters are already married and have three kids each. Although married, they live close to their parents and are successful in the businesses they are pursuing.

Last but not least, their famous son, Kobe, was born on August 23, 1978. He later became more popular than his father in the basketball world.

Kobe’s Life & Career

Born and initially raised in Pennsylvania, Kobe was the only son of his parents, Joe and Pam Bryant. After spending around six years of his childhood, Kobe moved to Italy with his parents as Joe began his professional career with the Italian club, AMG Sebastiani, in 1983.

Kobe was in Italy for around eight years, and he also lived in France briefly before returning to Philadelphia. As Kobe spent most of his time in Europe, he grew fond of sports, especially football.

However, young Bryant was always close to basketball because of his father’s influence. So, he started playing basketball seriously after returning to the United States.

Kobe became proficient as a guard pretty quickly, due to which he directly went for the NBA draft after high school. Although the Charlotte Hornets picked him in the draft, Kobe made his professional league debut with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996.

Playing for the LA Lakers throughout his playing career, Bryant established himself as one of the best NBA players of all time. He then announced his retirement in 2016.

Kobe was a colorful personality and was active in many fields outside basketball. The basketball legend was part of many films and tv shows, and he had extended his hands into charities and businesses as well.

Unfortunately, he lived a very short life. Kobe died in a helicopter crash in 2020 near the mountains of Calabasas, California, while going there to observe a vital basketball match. His daughter, Gianna, and eleven other people died in that accident.

He was just forty-one at the time of his death.

Kobe Bryant Father | Joe’s Relationship with Kobe

One should not dive deep to know about Joe’s complicated relationship with his son, Kobe. While he was his son’s idol alongside Michael Johnson and Magic Johnson while growing up, he was somewhat despised by his son in the latter part of his life.

Initially, when Kobe was just a learner, Joe would cheer him up when he felt like he would accomplish nothing in basketball. With Joe’s motivation and support, Kobe later achieved many things he had not imagined while growing up.

However, Joe was not always his son’s favorite. Although he tried being nice to his son, there were instances when Kobe got extremely angry with him.

Kobe and his wife Vanessa Bryant (Source: People)
Kobe and his wife, Vanessa Bryant (Source: People)

One of the earliest disagreements arose in 2001 when Kobe introduced his girlfriend, Vanessa Cornejo, and told them he would marry her.

As Joe and his wife disapproved of their relationship, Kobe was so annoyed that he did not talk with them for nearly two years. Joe somehow got close to his son after the birth of their granddaughter, Natalia, in 2003.

However, Kobe often made rude comments about his parents in the years that followed. Once, he admitted to the media that his relationship with his parents was terrible.

Similarly, once, he remarked that parents should remain parents and not their child’s managers, directly pointing toward his parents’ involvement with his professional life.

The other major rift between them arose when Joe and his wife decided to sell Kobe’s sports memorabilia to an auction house without his permission in 2013. Later, Kobe took all his belongings and blamed his parents for such deeds.

However, Joe later apologized for his mistake.

Had Joe Reconciled with Kobe?

Some media outlets had reported that Joe and his son had redeveloped their relationship just before Kobe’s unfortunate death. But, they had not shown up during important events, such as Kobe’s last NBA match and his jersey numbers retirement ceremony.

So, it was still unclear whether they had patched up. But, it is certain that as parents, Joe and Pam were devasted after hearing about their son’s death and took a long time to cope.

They were not even okay to talk to the media and attend their son’s funeral on February 7, 2020. However, they later attended the public memorial ceremony held on February 24, 2020, at Staples Center, Los Angeles.

You may like to read about Devin Harris, who played in the NBA for a half-dozen clubs from 2004 until his retirement in 2019!

Frequently Asked Questions

Was Joe Bryant a good player?

It would be wrong to say that Joe Bryant always performed well in his career. However, he was one of the best all-rounders during his college years, as he had outstanding scores and rebound points. 

So, although he struggled to put up a good game in his professional basketball career, Joe Bryant was overall a good player.

Why was Joe Bryant called Jellybean?

Joe was very agile and could show varieties of basketball moves even though he was one of the tallest guys in his high school. So, his teammate started calling him Jellybean as he moved around the court with ease.

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