Vanessa Bryant Recounts Finding Out About Kobe, Gianna's Deaths in Deposition

Adam WellsOctober 24, 2021

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Vanessa Bryant recounted when she found out about the deaths of her husband, Kobe, and daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.

Per Jonathan Abrams and Kevin Draper of the New York Times, Bryant went through the events of that day as part of a deposition stemming from her lawsuit against Los Angeles County.

In the transcript, obtained by Abrams and Draper, Bryant said a family assistant arrived at her house at around 11:30 a.m. local time to inform her that Kobe and Gianna were involved in a helicopter crash.

"The assistant said that five people had survived the crash that day, Jan. 26, 2020. Bryant said that she figured Kobe and Gianna would be among them and would be helping the other victims," wrote Abrams and Draper. "But as she tried to call her husband, notifications began popping up on her phone: R.I.P. Kobe. R.I.P. Kobe."

Bryant said she attempted to secure a helicopter that would be able to take her to the site, but she wound up receiving a car ride from Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka after being informed she couldn't obtain a helicopter because flying was unsafe at that time due to weather conditions in the area.

At the time Bryant was attempting to get on a helicopter, she said she still had not received word that Kobe and Gianna had died.

Bryant said that after the hour-and-45-minute car trip with Pelinka to the Malibu sheriff's station, "no one would answer" when she asked about her husband and daughter.

Bryant said it was only after a long wait that L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and a pastor spoke with her to confirm that Kobe and Gianna died.

"And I said: 'If you can't bring my husband and baby back, please make sure that no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area,'" Bryant said in the deposition. "And he [Villanueva] said: 'I will.' And I said: 'No, I need you to get on the phone right now and I need you to make sure you secure the area.'"

The deposition, which took place Oct. 12, is part of Bryant's lawsuit against L.A. County. She filed the suit in September 2020, claiming L.A. County sheriff's deputies shared unauthorized pictures from the crash site, including graphic images of the victims.

Attorneys for L.A. County filed a motion last week requesting that plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including Bryant, undergo an independent psychiatric examination "to evaluate the existence, extent and nature of Plaintiffs' alleged emotional injuries."

According to Abrams and Draper, Bryant said in the deposition that Villanueva "reassured" her the area had been secured.

In a March 2020 report by Alene Tchekmedyian and Paul Pringle of the Los Angeles Times, a complaint was filed against an L.A. County sheriff's deputy who was accused of showing graphic photos from the helicopter crash site at a restaurant in Norfolk.

Kobe and Gianna were among nine people killed in the crash in Calabasas, California. The helicopter was en route to Newbury Park for a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy.

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