Vanessa Bryant Reveals Moment She Learned of Kobe Bryant and Daughter Gianna's Death

Vanessa Bryant revealed how she learned about the death of her husband, retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and their daughter, Gianna Bryant, in a new court deposition earlier this month. Bryant said an assistant knocked on her door to share the news, and while she was trying to call her husband, she began receiving social media messages reading "RIP Kobe." The testimony was recorded as part of her lawsuit against Los Angeles County, alleging that she and her family suffered emotional distress after it was reported that Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies took photos of the helicopter crash site where Kobe, Gianna, and seven others died, and shared them among themselves.

The assistant knocked on Bryant's door on Jan. 26, 2020 to tell her the helicopter carrying Kobe and Gianna crashed. "She told me that there was an accident and that there were five survivors," Bryant testified on Oct. 12, according to court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times after a transcript was filed in court on Friday. "And I asked her if Gianna and Kobe were OK. And she said she wasn't sure." Bryant called Kobe, but no one picked up the phone. She then called her mother, asking her to come over to look after her youngest children. When she tried to call Kobe back, she suddenly started getting notifications on her phone, "saying RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe," Bryant testified.

After she received the "RIP Kobe" messages, Bryant picked up her daughter Natalia, who was taking a college entrance exam test prep class. Next, she drove to the airport and tried to get on a helicopter so she could fly form Orange County to Calabasas, where the helicopter carrying Kobe, Gianna, and seven others crashed. One of the helicopter owners told her that was impossible because of the "bad" weather conditions, Bryant testified.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka then picked up Bryant and drove her to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department's Malibu-Lost Hills station. She kept asking if Kobe and Gianna were ok, but "no one would answer me," she said. After noting how chaotic the situation was at the station, Bryant said Sheriff Alex Villanueva finally told her that Kobe and Gianna died in the crash.

Villanueva asked if there was anything he could do for her, and she recalled asking him to secure the area and make sure no one took pictures of Kobe and Gianna's remains. Bryant insisted the sheriff call the scene to make sure everything was secure, and he later told her the area was secure. Weeks after the crash, the Los Angeles Times reported that deputies did take pictures of the crash site and shared them.

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Bryant filed the lawsuit against L.A. County last year, and accused Villanueva of not investigating. Her legal team is trying to get Villanueva and L.A. County Fire Chief Darly Osby to depose. Lawyers for the county want Bryant to take an independent medical examination before the trial starts in February, as they argue she could not be experiencing severe distress from photos she hasn't seen herself. L.A. County lawyer Skip Miller noted that none of the photos first responders took leaked to the public.

In Friday's court filing, Bryant's attorneys argued that a medical exam is invasive and unnecessary, and pointed to the testimony as evidence that she is in distress. "The County's tactics are simply a cruel attempt to extract a price for victims to obtain accountability," her lawyers wrote. "Rather than take accountability for conduct the Sheriff himself has called 'wildly inappropriate' and 'disgusting,' the County has chosen to pull out all the stops to make the case as painful as possible."