Kobe Bryant‘s Wife Gives Birth to Couple‘s First Child

AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Kobe Bryant had to go back to work Monday night when the Lakers hosted the Los Angeles Clippers barely 24 hours after he became a father for the first time.

“I’m excited to play basketball, but to be honest, I really didn’t want to leave,” he said. “I did not want to take my eyes off her and my wife.”

Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, gave birth to Natalia Diamante Bryant at 3:08 p.m. Sunday, Lakers spokesman John Black said.

The baby weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 191/2 inches long, Black said.

“She looks just like Vanessa, thank God. She has a head full of hair just like her momma,” said Bryant, who missed practice Sunday.

Bryant said the process of driving his wife to the hospital after labor pains began was “the ultimate pressure situation.”

“I told Vanessa after Natalia was here it felt like I just played two back-to-back game sevens in the NBA finals, but the only thing was I didn’t play,” Bryant said. “I was on the bench waving the towel. She was in there playing and hitting all the big baskets.”

Bryant was with his wife during the birth and cut the baby’s umbilical cord. “I didn’t pass out,” he said.

“It went by so fast. We documented everything, so we have sound and pictures,” he said. “One day we can show her all the photographs and all the memories.”

The baby arrived the same week the Bryants are moving.

“Natalia jumped the gun on us a little bit,” he said. “I still have to go home tomorrow, pack all the boxes after practice and take them up to the new house and then go back and tape some more boxes and take them up to the house.”

Lakers coach Phil Jackson joked that Bryant should get some earplugs, then offered the 24-year-old some advice.

“Get up and change the baby’s diaper and stay up and help the mother and feed the baby in the night. That’s the most important thing you can do as the father,” said Jackson, who has five children.

Teammate Shaquille O’Neal, already a father with another child on the way, had some suggestions, too.

“With kids you’ve got to hold them, rub their heads, stand there through all their pain,” he said. “But Kobe’s a tough guy, he’ll be fine.”