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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Analysis With Michael Bryant of "Extra"

Aired August 7, 2003 - 20:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And aside from her appearance at her husband's news conference last month, we've heard very little about Bryant's wife, Vanessa.
A little bit earlier today, I spoke with Michael Bryant, a legal correspondent for the show "Extra," and I began by asking him about the two off-camera interviews with Vanessa Bryant's father, and the single interview view he had with her grandfather.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL BRYANT, LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": He is very concerned about Vanessa, obviously, and very supportive of her and Kobe. And not any different, really, than what you might expect from a normal father-daughter-slash-stepdaughter relationship. He's not mad, per se, at Kobe, although he's upset about the situation. He is more supportive of the relationship than anything else.

ZAHN: Now, a lot of people looking in from the outside will say, Yes, that makes a lot of sense, because isn't it true that Kobe Bryant has given him a tremendous amount of money to retire some debts?

BRYANT: That is true. They had some major financial problems. And Sophie (ph) and Steve Lanie -- Lane are now in the middle of a divorce proceeding. So they're having a lot of problems. And money was a huge problem, to the tune of $230,000 mortgage, which Vanessa and Kobe retired for them, paid off. They were given gifts of $500,000, made up of both cash and tangible property at some point prior to the filing for divorce.

So, yes, they had a heck of a lot of money problems. And that's created stress, obviously, within the Vanessa-Kobe relationship, because, you know, the best marriage can lead to in-law struggles. A marriage that has in-laws in financial trouble can be even more stressful.

And certainly Steve Lane has been appreciative that Kobe and Vanessa have helped out the family with these financial problems.

But I don't think, and I definitely did not get the impression, that that's the only reason that he is supportive, that is the only reason that he believes in the Kobe-Vanessa relationship.

ZAHN: Is it true that Steve Lane told you that he was a little hurt that Vanessa perhaps is much more supportive of her husband than he was of Steve Lane when the issue of infidelity came up in her parents' marriage?

BRYANT: Yes, I mean, there was no doubt. He was sad. I mean, it was -- he was frustrated. He was sad. The court papers make it clear that Sophie Lane has accused Steve of infidelity. So in his mind, it hurts to have his daughter so supportive of her man for admitting adultery, whereas Steve has been accused of the same moral crime, if I can put it that way, and yet she has sided more so with her mom than with Steve.

Yes, he was very hurt by that.

ZAHN: And tell us about the strained relationship Vanessa and Kobe Bryant have with Kobe's parents.

BRYANT: Yes, it's unfortunate, it's unusual. Joe Bryant, that's Kobe's dad, basically turned his back on the Kobe-Vanessa relationship because the family did not approve of Vanessa...

ZAHN: Why?

BRYANT: ... whether it was racial issues, something else. That doesn't help. I mean, when you don't have all the in-laws around the Christmas table for dinner, there's going to be day-to-day friction. And it has not helped Kobe and Vanessa get along. And it's something that Steve certainly wishes did not exist. He wishes it was a closer relationship between the in-laws, but what can he do about it?

ZAHN: You mentioned whether there is or there are racial issues. It's been widely reported that Kobe Bryant's parents weren't crazy about him marrying her because she's a Latina, and that she's not African-American.

BRYANT: Exactly.

ZAHN: Is that true?

BRYANT: Well, Steve didn't put it in those terms. He was a little more delicate about it. But I think that's the message that comes through. And I really think that's what it boils down to. But in the absence of a hard statement to that fact, I keep a kind of more an open mind. Maybe there were other issues as well.

ZAHN: Did Vanessa's stepfather tell you anything more about her state of mind, and how she's bearing up under this incredible pressure, particularly not only getting some advice from the team, but the Lakers, but from the legal team as well?

BRYANT: Yes. He's -- I mean, she's doing as well as can be expected. We're hearing those kinds of things, the things, the talking points that a professional publicist might give to somebody to spout out. But they seem to come from the heart.

Steve believes that she is really struggling with this, but holding up, getting a lot of support not only from the family, but from others as well. And I think we've seen that manifest itself with this Kobe-Vanessa togetherness that we've seen so much of since the incident. You know, the Espy awards, the Teen Choice awards, obviously the press conference.

That's why everyone was so surprised she was not here yesterday. But I think she had to draw a line somewhere. And I'm getting the impression from people that I've spoken to, that that was the line. I'm not going to the scene of the moral crime.

ZAHN: And did her stepfather tell you if he believes this marriage will survive this?

BRYANT: He seemed hopeful. You know, he's in a horrible place right now in terms of marital relations. You know, he's going through a not-so-nice divorce, he's having family issues of his own. But I got the impression he's much more optimistic about their situation than he is about his own.

ZAHN: Michael Bryant, thanks for sharing part of those interviews with us this evening.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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