Trials & Litigation

Kobe Bryant battles mom for ownership of sports memorabilia from his youth in 2 federal courts


image

Kobe Bryant, pictured here with a Teen Choice
Award Surfboard he won in 2002. The surfboard
is one of the memorabilia items at the auction
house. Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

Not one but two federal courts have been asked to weigh in on the issue of whether Kobe Bryant’s mom had a right to clear out his boyhood bedroom and sell at auction the sports memorabilia she found there.

Initially, the Philadelphia-area auction house to which Pamela Bryant consigned the items sued Kobe Bryant in federal court in Camden County, N.J., on May 2, apparently seeking a declaratory judgment that it has a legal right to proceed with a scheduled June auction that has already been publicized. Kobe Bryant attended high school in the area before being drafted into the NBA.

But after the Los Angeles Lakers star heard about the Goldin Auctions suit, on the same day it was filed, and talked with his mom by phone, he filed suit himself in state court in California on Monday. Goldin responded by removing the Orange County case to federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., and a federal judge there issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday blocking the auction house from selling the items it got from Pamela Bryant, Bloomberg reports.

A hearing is scheduled in Santa Ana on May 13, at which a possible preliminary injunction is expected to be discussed, as well as whether the case properly belongs in state court. Meanwhile, the federal court in New Jersey has reportedly scheduled a hearing a little later in the month.

Goldin says it had no reason to doubt the certificates of authenticity and sworn affidavits of Kobe Bryant’s own mother that she owned the sports memorabilia when it advanced Pamela Bryant $450,000 on items, such as her son’s high school uniform and varsity letters, that it expects to sell at auction for some $1 million.

However, Kobe Bryant’s lawyer says his mom was not the lawful owner.

“I never told my mother that she could have my personal property, let alone consign it for sale by public auction,” Bryant said in a filing in the Santa Ana federal case.

“Several years ago, while visiting my parents’ home in Philadelphia, my wife and I specifically requested that my mother return the property to me so that I may give it to my own children,” he continues. “My mother never returned those items to me.”

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Did Kobe Bryant’s mom get OK to auction items left in his boyhood bedroom? Federal judge grants TRO”

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