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Noble! Vanessa Bryant To Donate $16m Verdict Winnings To Charity

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant will donate proceeds from the multi-million dollar judgment she won Wednesday in a suit against the county of Los Angeles. 

According to her attorney, she had sued the county for invasion of privacy and would donate the money from the verdict to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit named in her husband’s and daughter’s memory.

Deputies and firefighters had shared gruesome photos of her deceased husband and child along with other people who lost their lives in the helicopter crash in Calabasas 202. Bryant said this brought her severe emotional distress and invaded her privacy. 

This lawsuit was filed in September 2020 when Bryant noticed that the pictures of her recently deceased family were being shared at several events around the country. At this time, she said she was still grieving, and seeing those pictures everywhere messed with her mental health and caused her severe emotional distress. 

Two witnesses, Ralph Mendez and Luella Weireter, protested to both the fire department and the sheriff’s department that their officials were improperly sharing pictures of the crash.

Bryant was awarded $16 million as part of a $31 million jury verdict. Christ Chester, Bryant’s co-plaintiff, had also lost his wife and daughter in the plane crash, and pictures of his deceased family members were also shared. Chester was also awarded $15 million, according to the verdict.

Her attorney mentioned that Bryant plans to donate every dollar she got from the suit to the sports foundation in honor of her deceased family members. He said she wanted to take the opportunity “to shine a light on Kobe and Gigi’s legacy.”

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The nonprofit foundation, Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, offers sports education and opportunities to underserved athletes. It was established in 2016 as the Mamba Sports Foundation, gaining inspiration from Bryant’s nickname, Black Mamba. It was later renamed to honor Bryant’s daughter, who died in the crash with her dad in 2020.

Her attorney, Luis Li, said, “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. Those measures are the responsibility of the sheriff’s and fire departments — responsibilities that Mrs. Bryant’s efforts have been exposed as woefully deficient, even giving amnesty to the wrongdoers.”

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

Bryant also did not forget to appreciate the people who reported the event; her attorney noted that she is grateful to them. Mendez took his complaints to the sheriff’s department as he reported that he witnessed a deputy flaunting photos of the crash scene at a bar in Norway. Weireter, on the other hand, reported to the fire department that firefighters were sharing the photos at an awards gala in Universal City.

Bryant was reportedly in tears during the trial as she testified that these photos intensified her grief. She said she still suffered from panic attacks and lives in “fear every day of being on social media and these popping up. I live in fear of my daughters being on social media and these popping up.”

Along with the deceased family members of Bryant and Chester, the crash also killed five people. They were identified as Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56, all from the Altobelli family. Christina Mauser, 38, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50, also lost their lives in this crash.