Vanessa Bryant to donate proceeds from lawsuit to Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation

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Friday, August 26, 2022
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Kobe Bryant's widow Vanessa Bryant plans to donate proceeds from her $16 million judgment to the nonprofit Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, according to her lawyer.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Kobe Bryant's widow Vanessa Bryant will donate proceeds from the multi-million dollar judgment she won Wednesday in a lawsuit against Los Angeles County to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit named in her husband's and daughter's memory, according to her attorney.

Bryant was awarded $16 million as part of a $31 million jury verdict over deputies and firefighters sharing grisly photos of the NBA star, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and other victims killed in a 2020 helicopter crash in Calabasas.

Her lawyer said in a statement she plans to donate the proceeds to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation to "shine a light on Kobe and Gigi's legacy."

The nonprofit Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation offers sports education to underserved athletes. Started in 2016 as the Mamba Sports Foundation -- Kobe Bryant's nickname was Black Mamba -- the charity was renamed in 2020 to 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 the county.

Kobe Bryant crash photos trial: Jury orders LA County to pay $31 million to plaintiffs

"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," the statement from attorney Luis Li said.

"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."

The statement added that she "never faltered, even when the County attempted to force her to submit to an involuntary psychiatric examination."

RELATED: Vanessa Bryant gives emotional testimony in Kobe crash photos trial

Li wrote 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 reported that firefighters were sharing the photos at an awards gala in Universal City.

Bryant tearfully testified during the 11-day trial that news of the photos compounded her still-raw grief a month after losing her husband and daughter, and that she still has panic attacks at the thought that they might still be out there.

Her co-plaintiff Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter were also among the nine people killed in the crash, was awarded $15 million.

Along with Chester and Bryant's loved ones, the crash killed Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.

City News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

RELATED: Whistleblower details night LASD deputy shared Kobe Bryant crash-scene photos at Norwalk bar