Vanessa Bryant giving undisclosed amount of $16M award to charity honoring Kobe and Gianna

By greatbritton



Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna had an untimely passing two years ago, but Vanessa Bryant is preserving the memory of her husband and their 13-year-old child by donating proceeds from a lawsuit involving the photos taken at their helicopter crash site to a cause that bears their names.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Bryant intends to give an undisclosed amount of the award from the $16 million verdict she won Wednesday in a lawsuit against Los Angeles County to the nonprofit Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which provides sports education to underprivileged athletes. 

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s widow, leaves a federal courthouse in Los Angeles Wednesday after being awarded $16 million as part of a $31 million jury verdict Wednesday against Los Angeles County for deputies and firefighters sharing grisly photos of the NBA star, their 13-year-old daughter and other victims killed in a 2020 helicopter crash. (Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP)

The organization, which was founded by the NBA star in 2016 in recognition of his moniker “Black Mamba,” was renamed in 2020 following the helicopter crash that killed him, his daughter and others in late January, which sparked the lawsuit against the county.

As previously reported by theGrio, the grieving widow sued L.A. County in September 2020, accusing the sheriff’s department of inflicting emotional distress by inappropriately sharing graphic photos taken at the scene of the Calabasas, California, helicopter crash that was caused by “pilot error” and claimed the lives of all nine people on board at the time.

“From the beginning, Vanessa Bryant has sought only accountability, but our legal system does not permit her to force better policies, more training or officer discipline,” Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement, as reported by The Times. “Those measures are the responsibility of the sheriff’s and fire departments — responsibilities that Mrs. Bryant’s efforts have exposed as woefully deficient, even giving amnesty to the wrongdoers.”

Li credited Ralph Mendez and Luella Weireter as the individuals who “brought to light the decades old practice of taking and sharing photos of accident and crime victims for no legitimate purpose,” according to The Times. Mendez is said to have complained to the sheriff’s office that a deputy was showing off crash site images to a bartender, and Weireter reported to the fire department that firefighters were doing the same at an awards ceremony.

“It is Mrs. Bryant’s hope that this important civil rights case will put to a stop this abhorrent and callous behavior,” said Li.

In addition to Bryant’s $16 million payout, Chris Chester — who also experienced distress as a result of first responders taking and sharing images of the crash victims’ bodies, including those of his daughter and wife — will receive $15 million.

Vanessa Bryant -- Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant
In this July 2018 photo, former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna watch the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif. A federal jury has found that L.A. County must pay Bryant’s widow $16 million over photos of the NBA star’s body at the site of the 2020 helicopter crash that killed him and their 13-year-old child. (Photo: Chris Carlson/AP, File)

In a prior request to dismiss the case, which was denied by a judge, L.A. County argued that the actual helicopter crash, not the graphic photos taken there, was what caused Bryant’s emotional distress.

The widow celebrated Wednesday’s victory in an Instagram post with a caption that read, “All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi! #Betonyourself #MambaDay 8•24•22.”

Bryant has also settled lawsuits against the estate of pilot Ara Zobayan, as well as the helicopter company involved in the deadly crash, as previously reported by theGrio.

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