Vanessa Bryant Reveals How She Learned About Kobe & Gianna’s Deaths
Nearly two years after Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash, his wife Vanessa Bryant is revealing how she found out about the tragedy.
In a recent court deposition, Vanessa revealed that their family assistant informed her of the crash at 11:30 a.m. on January 26, 2020. At the time, her assistant said that there had been five survivors — which turned out to be incorrect —but did not know if Kobe and Gianna made it.
Vanessa attempted to call Kobe, but there was no answer.
She then called her mom to ask her to “spot me with the littles,” referring to their daughters Bianca and Capri.
While she was on the phone with her mom, Vanessa saw that “all these notifications started popping up on my phone, saying 'RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe.'"
Vanessa then went to pick up their oldest daughter Natalia from a college prep class.
According to Vanessa, authorities were unable to tell her anything over the phone, and she was told she would need to go to the Malibu police station, the closest one to the crash site.
Before Lakers GM Robert Pelinka drove her, she requested a helicopter fly her and Natalia to the crash site. Due to weather conditions, the helicopter owner refused Bryant’s request.
According to Bryant’s deposition, they arrived at the police station around 1:30 p.m. After some waiting, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva informed her that Kobe and Gianna died.
After hearing the news, she told Villanueva, “If you can't bring my husband and baby back, please make sure no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area."
Vanessa claims she was later told by the sheriff, “All is good. The area is secure. There's an umbrella over the area."
In May this year, Vanessa sued Los Angeles County, its sheriff and fire departments, and four individuals.
According to the documents, “Sheriff's deputies who responded to the crash used personal cell phones to take gratuitous photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches.”
“Photos of the remains quickly spread within the Sheriff's Department as deputies transmitted them to one another via text message and AirDrop,” the filing claimed. "Within forty-eight hours, at least ten members of the Sheriff's Department obtained photos of the victims' remains on their personal cell phones despite having no legitimate governmental use of the photos."
In response to Vanessa’s lawsuit, lawyers for Los Angeles County said in a court filing, “The county does not condone this showing of accident site photographs and has taken corrective personnel actions accordingly. That does not mean, however, that plaintiff has viable legal claims. The two seminal cases involve public dissemination of pictures of human remains, and that did not occur here. The photographs were not given to the media and were not posted on the internet. They were not publicly disseminated."
During the deposition, lawyers for Los Angeles County asked Bryant to look at graphic photos and messages that were sent to her on social media, but she declined.
Vanessa noted that she didn’t see any photos of Kobe or Gianna’s remains, but kept the clothes that they wore on the day of the crash. She explained, “I had to recover all their items because I know people are sick and would like to take pictures of them and share them."
“They suffered a lot,” Vanessa stressed. "And if their clothes represent the condition of their bodies, I cannot imagine how someone could be callous and have no regard for them or our friends, and just share the images as if they were animals on a street."
Bryant was also asked to define “emotional distress.” She said, “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."
Seeking “accountability,” Vanessa emphasized, “No one should ever have to endure this type of pain and fear of their family members. The pictures getting released, this is not okay."