Vanessa Bryant plans to give verdict proceeds to Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation

Vanessa Bryant, widow of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, plans to donate the proceeds from the $16 million judgment she won Wednesday in a case against Los Angeles County to a foundation dedicated to the memory of her Husband and daughter was named, her attorney said Thursday.

The non-profit Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation provides physical education to underserved athletes. Founded in 2016 as the Mamba Sports Foundation, the charity — Kobe Bryant’s nickname was Black Mamba — was renamed in 2020 to honor the Bryants’ 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, a rising basketball star who died in a helicopter crash with her father, who was spurred on the lawsuit against the district.

After an 11-day trial, a federal jury on Wednesday ordered Los Angeles County to pay Bryant and a man who lost his daughter and wife in the crash a total of $31 million for the hardship caused by photos showing the the sheriff’s deputies and firefighters had picked up and divided the bodies of the accident victims.

Bryant has been awarded $16 million and the man, Chris Chester, will receive $15 million. Bryant said she’s donating her share to the foundation to “shed a light on Kobe and Gigi’s legacy.”

“Vanessa Bryant has only sought accountability from the beginning, but our legal system does not allow her to enforce better policies, more training or discipline on officers,” her attorney Luis Li said in a statement. “These actions are the responsibility of the sheriff and the fire department — responsibilities that have exposed Mrs. Bryant’s efforts as woefully inadequate and have even granted the wrongdoers amnesty.”

He added that Bryant “never faltered even when the county tried to force her to undergo an involuntary psychiatric evaluation.”

The statement did not specify how much money the foundation would receive.

In the statement, Li said Bryant was “deeply 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 showed photos of accident scenes to a bartender in Norwalk, while Weireter reported that firefighters showed the photos at an awards gala in Universal City.

Li said the couple “brought to light the decades-old practice of taking and sharing photos of accident and crime victims without a legitimate purpose.” He added: “It is Ms. Bryant’s hope that this important civil rights case will put an end to this despicable and callous behavior.”

Attorneys for Bryant and Chester documented how photos from the phones of deputies and firefighters at the scene of the accident on a steep hillside in Calabasas had spread: they were flashed from a sheriff’s deputy phone screen to a bartender in Norwalk. They were shown to firefighters and their spouses during an awards gala at a Universal City hotel in what one witness said amounted to a “party trick.” They were passed from one MP to another while the couple played video games.

Lawyers argued that it was unknown how widely the images spread because the county failed to investigate thoroughly.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-25/vanessa-bryant-verdict-mamba-mambacita-foundation Vanessa Bryant plans to give verdict proceeds to Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation

Alley Einstein

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