Vanessa Bryant has been awarded $16m (£13.6m) in damages over leaked graphic
photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their
daughter in 2020.
A US jury agreed that the photos, shared by Los Angeles County deputies and
firefighters, invaded Vanessa Bryant’s privacy and caused emotional distress.
NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among the victims
killed in the 2020 helicopter crash. They had been traveling to a youth basketball
game when the helicopter crashed into hills in Calabasas west of Los Angeles on
The jury reached the verdict on Kobe Bryant Day, which is celebrated in Los Angeles
on August 24 because it represents his jersey numbers – 8 and 24 – and is the day after
his birthday. He would have turned 44 on Tuesday.
After the verdict, Mrs. Bryant posted a photo on Instagram of herself with her
husband and daughter.
Last November, the county agreed to pay $2.5m (£2.1m) over the emotional distress
caused to two families who lost relatives in the crash – but Mrs. Bryant refused to
Sobbing on the witness stand last week, Mrs. Bryant recalled being at home with her
other children when she read the LA Times story.
“I bolted out of the house and I ran to the side of the house so the girls couldn’t see
me. I wanted to run… down the block and just scream,” she said.
Mrs. Bryant said she had felt “blindsided, devastated, hurt and betrayed” by news of
the leak and “[lives] in fear every day of… having these images pop up” on social
“I don’t ever want to see these photographs,” she said. “I want to remember my
husband and my daughter the way they were.”
Jurors at the trial heard how sheriff’s deputies and firefighters took gruesome cell
phone photos at the accident site and showed them to others, including at a bar and a
These employees “poured salt in an open wound and rubbed it in” with their actions,
Mrs Bryant’s lawyer Luis Li said during opening statements last week.
A lawyer for the county unsuccessfully argued that “site photography is essential” and
that the photos had not been posted anywhere publicly.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, played for the LA Lakers throughout his career
and is considered one of the greatest players in the game’s history.