Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has scored a victory in an ongoing legal battle with his own mother, who planned to auction off his sports memorabilia worth around $1.5 million.
This week, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Goldin Auctions barring the auction house from selling Bryant's basketball jerseys, jackets, high school championship rings, trophies and other collectibles pending a full hearing.
The New Jersey-based auction business has filed a complaint claiming that Bryant's mother, Pamela Bryant, put up for sale a large collection of sports memorabilia, which she had received as a gift from her millionaire son.
According to court filings, Pamela Bryant struck a deal in January with Goldin Auctions in Berlin, N.J., which earlier this year sold a rare Honus Wagner baseball card for a record $2.1 million. In return, Mrs. Bryant received a $450,000 advance, which she in turn used to buy a house in Nevada.
According to the lawsuit, Pamela Bryant had been storing some of her son's memorabilia for at least 15 years - his high school uniform shorts and jerseys date back to 1994 and there's even a Sonny Hill League Future Stars Champion trophy from 1992, when he was still in middle school.
Among the first 100 or so items Mrs. Bryant intends to sell: the NBA star's jerseys, practice gear and sweatsuits from Lower Merion High School; varsity letters; a trophy for being the outstanding player at the 1995 Adidas ABCD basketball camp; and a signed basketball from the 2000 NBA championship game.
And then there are rings, for the 1996 Pennsylvania high school championship, a pair that the Lakers made for Bryant's parents for the 2000 NBA championship and one from the 1998 NBA All-Star game.
In its court filings, Goldin says Pamela Bryant told the auction house that she asked her son five years ago what he wanted to do with the items that were in her home. Kobe Bryant indicated to Pamela Bryant that the items belonged to her and that he had no interest in them,' the auction house's attorneys wrote. So she put them in a $1,500-per-month New Jersey storage unit.
However, the 34-year-old athlete, who is currently recovering from a season-ending injury to his Achilles’ tendon, filed his own complaint against the auction house insisting that he had never given his mother permission to sell his memorabilia. Mr. Bryant went on to stay in his court filing that his mother stole some of his personal items from his house.
Last week, Kobe Bryant's lawyers demanded that Goldin Auctions scrap the scheduled June sale. In response, the auction house sued the athlete for the right to go ahead with the sale of The Kobe Bryant Collection.
Mr Bryant has emphasized that he was only suing the auctioneers and not his mother, but both he and his wife, Vanessa, had testified in writing that Pamela Bryant took the memorabilia and put it on the auction block without their permission, and then refused to return the prized possessions.
Bryant said in a sworn statement that the items at the center of the dispute go back to his teenage years have 'tremendous sentimental value,' adding that he was planning to hand down his 'well-deserved memorabilia’ to his children, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Bryant said his mother can claim ownership of only two items, NBA Championship rings that he had custom-made for his parents.
Bryant has had a sometimes icy relationship with his mother and father, Joe 'Jellybean' Bryant, a former pro basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers who is now coaching in Thailand.
According to reports, Kobe Bryant's parents didn't attend his wedding because they thought at 21 he was too young and because his wife is not black. But like most disapproving parents, they came around with the birth of a grandchild, a girl.