Vanessa Bryant is still dealing with the aftermath of the helicopter crash that took the lives of husband Kobe Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant in January 2020. She’s embroiled in a civil lawsuit, suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for emotional distress after members of the agency took graphic images of the victims’ bodies and shared them with people outside the investigation.
If that wasn’t horrible enough, a recent court deposition in the case revealed the heartbreaking way the NBA player’s wife found out about the loss of her husband and daughter — it’s just crushing. Around 11:30 a.m. that day, she was informed by a family assistant that the helicopter had crashed with only five survivors, but the status of Kobe and Gianna were unknown at the time, per court transcripts, via E! News.
While TMZ was confirming the news of the basketball legend’s death, Vanessa was busy trying to contact her husband on his cell phone, to no avail. As she was calling her mother to come over and assist with the two youngest Bryant girls, Bianca and Capri, the most devastating news showed up on her phone.
“As soon as I was on the phone with my mom, I was holding onto my phone, because obviously, I was trying to call my husband back,” Vanessa shared in the deposition, “and all these notifications started popping up on my phone, saying ‘RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe.'” It was important for the mother-of-four to hear the news from an official source, so she tried to get Los Angeles County Sheriff authorities to tell her the truth over the phone. When she was informed that it had to be done in person at the Malibu police station, Vanessa tried to get a helicopter to make the quick trip up the coast, but she was turned down due to poor weather conditions.
Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka drove her and oldest daughter Natalia over 90 minutes up to Los Angeles County, where she finally received the official word that her husband and daughter were gone from Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. He made a promise in that room that the area would be secured and their privacy would be respected — and that was obviously not the case. Her brutal heartbreak and trauma are revealed in those court documents as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department continue to fight this case. But Vanessa is not backing down and she’s fighting for their dignity in death. “Emotional distress means that not only do I have to grieve the loss of my husband and child, but for the rest of my life I’m going to have to fear that those photographs of my husband and child will be leaked.”
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