Vanessa Bryant, widow to the hall of fame NBA star Kobe Bryant, has settled the remaining claims against Los Angeles County for $28 million over photos taken of the 2020 helicopter crash scene that killed Kobe and his daughter Gianna, as well as seven others.
Vanessa’s lawyer, Luis Li, released a statement regarding the conclusion of the court case, per the New York Times.
“Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct. She fought for her husband, her daughter, and all those in the community whose deceased family were treated with similar disrespect. We hope her victory at trial and this settlement will put an end to this practice.”
In January 2020, Kobe Bryant was traveling via helicopter with his daughter, Gianna, 13, and seven other people to attend and help coach her youth basketball game at Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, CA. As they were flying through foggy weather conditions, the pilot lost sight and crashed into a hill in Calabasas, killing everyone on board.
Amid the crash, graphic photos were taken and shared among employees of the LA fire and sheriff’s departments. Those same employees proceeded to share the photos with people outside the departments, including their spouses and, in one case, a bartender at a bar one of the deputies was attending.
The lead lawyer representing LA County, Mira Hashmall, stated that the settlement was “fair and reasonable” and “resolves all outstanding issues related to pending legal claims in state court, future claims by the Bryant children, and other costs, with each party responsible for its respective attorneys’ fees,” according to ESPN.
“We hope Ms. Bryant and her children continue to heal from their loss,” Hashmall added, referencing Vanessa’s surviving daughters, Natalia, Capri, and Bianka.
Regarding the time of the crash, Vanessa gave a deposition (a sworn out-of-court testimony) about the LA County Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, confirming the death of her husband. Alex asked if there was anything he could do. She replied, “If you can’t bring my husband and baby back, please make sure that no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area.”
“And he said: ‘I will,’” she continued. “And I said: ‘No, I need you to get on the phone right now and I need you to make sure you secure the area.’”
She added in her testimony, “I live in fear of my daughters being on social media and these popping up.”
In addition to the Bryant family reaching a settlement, three other families took part in the court victory, including Chris Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the crash. Chester was awarded nearly $20 million. Two other families were also awarded $1.25 million back in October 2021.
Vanessa will be donating her earnings to Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a non-profit organization that was founded to honor Kobe and Gianna, and is “dedicated to creating positive impact for underserved athletes and boys and girls in sports.”