Wednesday was August 24, but it wasn’t just another one of the dog days of summer. It’s designated, at least in Los Angeles, “Mamba/Kobe Bryant Day” to honor the late Lakers superstar player who left us too soon in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, which also took his daughter Gianna; his uniform numbers were 8 and 24.
Fans might also know that Tuesday would have been Kobe’s 44th birthday. Several of the late athlete’s loved ones commemorated him with bittersweet messages and flashback images on social media, including his sister Sharia Washington and his daughter Natalia, People reports. His widow Vanessa shared a post on her Instagram account, as well, wishing him a happy birthday in heaven:
“Happy birthday, baby! I love you and miss you so much! #44 ❤️,” Vanessa wrote as a caption accompanying the smiling photo of the pair. In the snap, Kobe is seen wearing a baseball hat and a 2009 NBA Championships T-shirt which his team, the Los Angeles Lakers, won.
It somehow seems appropriate then for some positive news to break the family’s way this week.
Recently, my California-based colleague Jim Thompson wrote a legal analysis of the lawsuit filed by Vanessa Bryant, the widow of the NBA Hall of Famer, on behalf of their family. He summarized the suit well here:
The world learned that photos of the crash site were taken by County personnel showing body parts and wreckage. Those photos were shared by Sheriff’s deputies with other deputies, and those deputies showed them to people like girls at bars and bartenders. The Sheriff, once he learned of the photos, ordered all the photos deleted. To date, there is no evidence that any of the cop photos exist.
Vanessa Bryant also learned of the photos and in September 2020, sued the Sheriff and LA county in federal court for emotional distress.
Now, there’s a decision from the jury in the case, according to the Associated Press:
Kobe Bryant’s widow was awarded $16 million as part of a $31 million jury verdict Wednesday against Los Angeles County for deputies and firefighters sharing grisly photos of the NBA star, his 13-year-old daughter and other victims killed in a 2020 helicopter crash.
The nine jurors unanimously agreed with Vanessa Bryant and her attorneys that the photos invaded her privacy and caused emotional distress. She cried quietly as it was read.
The AP noted that after the verdict, Vanessa returned to Instagram, writing to her late husband and daughter “Gigi,” next to a heartbreaking photo of the trio:
All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi! #Betonyourself #MambaDay 8•24•22 💜💛💜💛 #MambaMentality