Vanessa Bryant To Donate Proceeds From Kobe Crash Photos Lawsuit To Charity

Vanessa Bryant plans to donate proceeds from the $16 million judgment she won Wednesday in a lawsuit against Los Angeles County to a foundation named for her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna, it was reported today.

The nonprofit Mamba and Mambacita Sports foundation offers sports education to underserved athletes. Started in 2016 as the Mamba Sports Foundation — the Lakers great’s nickname was Black Mamba — the charity was renamed in 2020 to honor the Bryants’ 13-year-old basketball-playing daughter, Gianna, who died alongside her father in the January 2020 helicopter crash that prompted the lawsuit against the county.

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After an 11-day trial, a Los Angeles federal jury on Wednesday ordered Los Angeles County to pay a combined total of $31 million to Bryant and an Orange County man who lost his daughter and wife in the crash for the mental anguish caused by photos sheriff’s deputies and firefighters took and shared of the crash victims’ bodies.

Bryant was awarded $16 million and Chris Chester will receive $15 million. Bryant’s attorney said she was giving her portion to the foundation as a way to “to shine a light on Kobe and Gigi’s legacy,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

“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,” her attorney Luis Li said in a statement given to 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.”

He added that Bryant “never faltered, even when the county attempted to force her to submit to an involuntary psychiatric examination.”

In the statement, Li said Bryant is “deeply grateful” to private citizens Ralph Mendez and Luella Weireter, who complained to the sheriff’s department and fire department, respectively, about the photo sharing. Mendez reported that a deputy was showing off crash scene photos to a bartender in Norwalk, while Weireter reported that firefighters were sharing the photos at an awards gala in Universal City.

Li said the pair “brought to light the decades old practice of taking and sharing photos of accident and crime victims for no legitimate purpose.” He added: “It is Mrs. Bryant’s hope that this important civil rights case will put to a stop this abhorrent and callous behavior.”

Lawyers for Bryant and Chester showed the jury how the photos had spread from the phones of deputies and firefighters at the crash scene on a remote hillside in Calabasas on Jan. 26, 2020.

Li’s statement did not specify the exact amount of money the foundation would receive.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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