Joe Bryant Began an NBA Legacy That Changed Kobe’s Life Forever

NBA star and former basketball coach Joe Bryant was born in 1954. His talents and skills eventually led him to the NBA and then fatherhood. As many of his fans and the world already know, he is the father of the late Kobe Bryant. When you look at Joe’s career, it’s easy to see how his love of the game shaped and changed his son’s life

Joe Bryant’s basketball career

The Bryant family has a deep connection to the city of Philadelphia, where Joe was born and his journey began. Growing up in Philly, everyone could see his passion and talent for basketball. After high school, Joe stayed in his hometown and played college basketball for La Salle University.

In 1975, the Warriors, fresh off a championship win, chose the rising basketball star with the 14th pick, according to The Mercury News. However, before the season began, Golden State traded Joe to the Philadelphia 76ers. The forward was thrilled to represent the city he called home. 

Jellybean, Joe’s high-school nickname, followed him throughout his NBA career. In 1979, he made the switch from the 76ers to the San Diego Clippers. After spending a few seasons on the West Coast, Joe moved to the Houston Rockets. This season, 1982-83, was his last in the NBA. As his pro career in the U.S. fizzled out, Joe left to play basketball overseas. In 1992, he accepted a coaching position for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

When Joe’s career officially kicked off in 1975, his marriage did, too. That same year, he wed Pam Cox. The couple went on to have three children, including Kobe Bryant.

Joe’s insight on Kobe Bryant’s upbringing and skills

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and father Joe Bryant attend an MLB game in 2009
Kobe Bryant and father Joe Bryant attend an MLB game in 2009 | Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Joe has always been extremely candid when sharing his experiences as a father, as Heavy explains. When it came to raising his son, Joe believed he was able to provide Kobe with experiences and opportunities the average kid doesn’t have. Since Joe was in the NBA, a young age Kobe saw the sport and its stars up close and personal.

Trying to help others better his perspective, Joe once said, according to, “After a game, when you’re 10, 11, or 12 years old, you can go in the locker room and talk to Magic or talk to Kareem or talk to George Gervin or whatever the case may be, you get a chance to get on the court and shoot around with them where a lot of kids don’t get that opportunity.”

Joe says Kobe witnessed the roller coaster ride that is professional basketball. He believes Kobe understood “the ups and downs and the challenges that their parents went through.” Most kids don’t receive this sort of perspective at a young age.

On another note, Joe shared, “As parents, we try to give our kids advice just to stay focused, work hard and those types of things … So that’s the advantage.” On and off the court, Joe would like to believe he instilled good values and beliefs that ultimately helped shape his son to be an incredible legend.

Unfortunately, Joe and Kobe’s relationship got rocky in the early 2000s. Fans and the media speculate it had something to do with Kobe’s girlfriend and future wife, Vanessa. Others believe it involves his parents’ decision to sell some memorabilia of Kobe’s, which ended in a lawsuit. Regardless, Joe and Pam attended Kobe’s memorial service on February 24, 2020.

Joe Bryant’s net worth 

CelebrityNetWorth estimates that Joe’s net worth is $5 million — a pretty impressive number, but nothing in comparison to Kobe’s net worth.

At the time of Kobe’s tragic death, he had an astounding net worth of $600 million. His record-breaking NBA talent and ambitious pursuits rightfully earned him this remarkable amount. Fans continue to mourn Kobe and are appreciate Joe’s willingness to share his experiences with the public.