A day after being awarded $16 million in the trial over leaked Kobe Bryant helicopter crash photos, Vanessa Bryant’s attorney announced she will donate proceeds from the settlement to her late husband’s charity, the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.
Attorney Luis Li said Thursday Bryant’s donation will be used to “shine a light on Kobe and Gigi’s legacy.”
Kobe Bryant, whose nickname was Black Mamba, started the non-profit Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation in 2016, to offer sports education to athletes from underserved communities.
When Kobe launched the organization, he called it the Mamba Sports Foundation. It was renamed in 2020 to also 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 Los Angeles County.
On Wednesday, a federal jury sided with Vanessa Bryant and co-plaintiff Chris Chester ordering the county to pay them a total of $31 million in damages.
The award was combined, with Bryant — who lost her husband and 13-year-old daughter Gianna — taking $16 million. Chris Chester, was awarded $15 million after losing his wife Sarah and 13-year-old daughter Payton in the crash.
The two alleged they suffered emotional pain after first responders snapped and passed around gruesome photos of the tragic January 2020 crash site in Calabasas, where a total of nine people were killed.
Vanessa’s attorney said the lawsuit was never about financial gain.
“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,” Luis Li said in a statement.
“Those measures are the responsibility of the Sheriffs and Fire Departments — responsibilities that Mrs. Bryant’s efforts have exposed as woefully deficient, even giving amnesty to the wrongdoers,” Li added.
The statement said Bryant “never faltered, even when the County attempted to force her to submit to an involuntary psychiatric examination.”
According to her attorney, Vanessa Bryant is grateful to 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 said firefighters were sharing the photos at an awards gala.
During the 11-day trial, Bryant gave tearful testimony about living in fear that the pictures will end up on the internet.
“I’m worried about any photographs that might identify my husband and daughter becoming public,” she told jurors.
Li’s statement did not specify the exact amount of money the foundation will receive.