Vanessa Bryant has accused her mother Sofia Urbieta, also known as Sofia Laine, of trying to "extort a financial windfall" from her family. The allegation is in response to a lawsuit Sofia filed through her attorneys in California's Orange County Superior Court on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
In Sofia's filing, which was obtained by E! News, the 68-year-old alleged she "has been a long-time personal assistant and nanny" for Vanessa and Kobe Bryant and that she "was never paid for her services despite promises" she claimed the late Lakers legend made before his untimely death. Vanessa has denied her mother's accusations in a statement obtained by E! News.
"My mother is continuing to try and find ways to extort a financial windfall from our family," she said. "I have supported her for nearly 20 years, and she was never my or Kobe's personal assistant, nor was she a nanny. I have always been a stay-at-home mother and my husband and I were our daughter's full-time care givers."
Sofia alleged in the lawsuit that she "has personally taken care of each of the Bryants' children and has been on-call 24/7 in the event that the Bryants needed her," including when they traveled, attended sporting events, worked or enjoyed romantic getaways. She also alleged that by taking care of their children, she allowed them to have more kids. Kobe and Vanessa welcomed four daughter together: Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri Bryant. Both Kobe and Gianna died in a helicopter crash along with seven other victims in January.
In the documents, Sofia claimed she "entered into an oral contract" with the Bryants and that Kobe "repeatedly promised" to take care of her "financially in exchange for her many years of work for his family." She alleged this included the purchasing of her home, which purportedly cost $2.65 million.
In the filing, Sofia claimed the Bryants later sold this house for $3.22 million and used the proceeds to buy a second home for $1.7 million. The documents alleged she had a balance of $1.52 million from the sale of the first house and that this amount "was wrongfully held from her." She claimed "the Bryants promised over and over to give her the balance from the sale but never did."
In March, less than two months after Kobe and Gianna died, Vanessa allegedly told Sofia she should sell the second home and move in with her. However, Sofia claimed she never moved into the Bryants' house.
Vanessa continued to deny her mother's claims, telling E! News, "For nearly two decades, we arranged for my mother to live in our nearby properties, at no cost to her because she had claimed that she didn't have any money to buy her own home after her divorce. My husband and I felt it was best for her not to live in our home. She watched our girls from time to time, just like most grandparents do. She did not take care of business issues or expenses. She was a grandmother who was supported by me and her son-in-law at my request."
"In reality, she only occasionally babysat my older girls when they were toddlers," she added. "As of 10 years ago, our kids were full-time students and athletes and I didn't have another child until 2016. Her claims are obviously false but I still tried, repeatedly, to work things out with my mother."
But the claims didn't end there. In the lawsuit, Sofia also alleged that Vanessa "began attending social events" shorty after Kobe's passing and that she would watch Vanessa's children at home.
"Plaintiff believed this was extremely inappropriate and troubling and told Vanessa Bryant that she should be at home mourning the death of Kobe Bryant and their daughter, Gigi, as opposed to going out socially," the filing stated. "Vanessa Bryant was agitated by the advice that Plaintiff gave her. In retaliation, Vanessa Bryant embarked on a mission to cut Plaintiff off physically and financially."
According to Vanessa, however, "I haven't left my children's side since the accident except to visit the cemetery to make arrangements."
All in all, 32 causes of action were listed in the lawsuit, including breach of contract, false promise, intentional interference with contractual relations, financial elder abuse and other allegations.
Per the lawsuit, Sofia is seeking damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, coverage of attorney fees and costs and any other "further relief as the court deems just and proper." A jury trial has been requested.
In her statement, Vanessa also referenced an interview Sofia gave to Univision's El Gordo y La Flaca in September.
"Earlier this year, I was looking for a new home for her and, a week later, she went on television and gave an interview disparaging our family and making false accusations while living rent-free in a gated apartment complex in Newport Coast," Vanessa stated. "Even after that betrayal, I was willing to provide my mother with monthly support for the rest of her life and that wasn't good enough. She, instead, contacted me through intermediaries (contrary to what she claims, my phone number hasn't changed) and demanded $5 million, a house and a Mercedes SUV. Because I did not give in to her hurtful threats and monetary requests, she has spiraled out of control and is making false and absurd claims. She is now trying to get more money than my husband and I ever spent to provide for her while he was alive."
She concluded, "She has no regard for how this is affecting my children and me. She wants to live off of my daughters and me for the rest of her life while continuing to collect monthly alimony from her ex-husband since 2004. My husband and I have never discouraged or kept her from providing for herself. This lawsuit is frivolous, disgraceful, and unimaginably hurtful. My husband never promised my mother anything, and he would be so disappointed in her behavior and lack of empathy."
E! News reached out to Sofia's attorney. We have not heard back.