updated 05/07/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/07/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Sure enough, Bryant, 22, looked neat and stuff when he walked down the aisle with Vanessa Laine, 18, at their surprise wedding April 18—right before the defending-champion Lakers began the playoffs. Bryant, in a black suit, and his bride, in a full-length Vera Wang and $500,000 worth of baubles, whisked only a dozen guests to secluded St. Edward Catholic Church in Dana Point, 90 minutes south of L.A. There the two strolled under a heart-shaped arch and over rose petals on the way to swapping platinum and diamond wedding bands. "They are sweet together and very much in love," says Ann Whatu, co-owner of Santa Monica jeweler Rafinity, which made the rings. (Laine's totaled 5 carats, Bryant's 15.) "Vanessa helped design Kobe's wedding band. He just loves that she did that for him."
Bryant gave Laine a 7½-carat engagement ring in May 2000, when she was still in high school. Fond of daredevil stunts like bungee jumping and parasailing, the couple picked a rare off day for Bryant to squeeze in their secret nuptials. (He told team-mates at practice the next day.) In lieu of a honeymoon, Laine watched her new hubby score 28 points in a playoff win four days later. "There wasn't really a perfect time to do it," says Whatu. "But they wanted to have a private, intimate moment together, and they succeeded." Plus, Bryant's size 14 shoes stayed laced.