A New Jersey auction house filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Camden on Thursday for the right to sell the stuff after the NBA star's lawyers wrote the firm telling it to cancel a planned June auction.
The disagreement is a high-value, high-profile version of a question many families face: Can Mom get rid of the stuff a grown child left at home?
Pamela 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.
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.
She got $450,000 up front, which she intended to use for a new home in Nevada.
A source told ESPN that Kobe Bryant offered to pay his mother up $250,000 toward a home she wanted.
She refused, saying she wanted $450,000. When Kobe Bryant turned her down, the source said that unbeknownst to Kobe Bryant she struck a deal to get the $450,000 advanced through the auction company.
The source said Kobe Bryant was unaware that his memorabilia was being auctioned until hours before the auction company released the news of the sale.
Sources close to Kobe Bryant confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com that before learning about the auction through news reports, the Lakers star has given his parents "millions of dollars in financial assistance" throughout his 17-year career.
Bryant's parents decided to sell his high school memorabilia without his consent in order to purchase an additional home, sources said. Bryant offered to buy a house for his parents, but they wanted a larger one.
In its court filings, Goldin Auctions 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.
The challenge came Tuesday when Goldin Auctions sent a news release announcing the auction. By day's end, Kobe Bryant's lawyer had sent a cease-and-desist letter telling the auction house to call off the sale and return the items to him.
Kenneth Goldin, owner of the auction house, says he can't cancel the auction because he's already advanced $450,000 to Bryant's mother and put money into advertising the auction.
Kobe Bryant's lawyer Mark Campbell said in a statement, "Mr. Bryant's personal property has ended up in the possession of someone who does not lawfully own it. We look forward to resolving this legal matter through the legal system."
Bryant has had a sometimes icy relationship with his mother and father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, a former pro basketball player who is now coaching in Thailand.
Information from ESPN.com's Darren Rovell, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin and The Associated Press was used in this report.