Inside Kobe Bryant’s Widow Vanessa’s Legal Drama Since His Death

Many people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard that Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.

Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, has dealt with not only the tragic deaths of her husband and daughter but also the legal battles that are now in progress since then including a lawsuit filed against her.

Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant share a kiss during The Gentleman's Supper Club hosted by Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony honoring Kobe Bryant on February 13, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.
Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant|Bobby Metelus/FilmMagic

Vanessa Bryant files multiple lawsuits

The same day that 20,000 people filled the Staples Center in Los Angeles to attend Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s memorial service, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed. The 72-page complaint against Island Express Helicopters accuses the company of negligence for allowing the chopper to fly in unsafe conditions the morning of the 26th. The suit, filed by Vanessa, alleged that the crash could have been avoided and claimed that the pilot Ara Zobayan, who was also killed, had used poor judgment by flying in foggy conditions.

“Kobe Bryant was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects,” the complaint said.

The families of the other victims involved in the fatal accident are also suing Island Express Helicopters.

USA Today noted that in September 2020, Vanessa filed another suit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department over photos allegedly taken by deputies at the crash site.

Vanessa’s own mother sued her

Vanessa’s court cases don’t stop there though. Another suit that has to be handled is the one filed against her by her own mother. In the court documents filed in Orange County Superior Court in December 2020 Vanessa’s mom, Sofia Laine, is seeking financial support from her daughter.

“Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant’s promises did not see the light of day as he is now deceased, and Vanessa Bryant took each and every step she could to void and cancel all of Kobe Bryant’s promises made to Plaintiff,” Laine alleges in the docs. “Vanessa Bryant did not intend to honor any of the Bryants’ representations, agreements and promises at any stage.”

Vanessa has since responded to her mother’s lawsuit calling it “unimaginably hurtful.”

“My mother is continuing to try and find ways to extort a financial windfall from our family. I have supported her for nearly 20 years, and she was never my or Kobe’s personal assistant, nor was she a nanny,” Vanessa shared in a statement sent to Entertainment Tonight by her rep. “This lawsuit is frivolous, disgraceful, and unimaginably hurtful. My husband never promised my mother anything, and he would be so disappointed in her behavior and lack of empathy.” 

Vanessa remembers Kobe and Gianna 1 year after their deaths

 Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant
Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant | Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

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Vanessa has posted several emotional tributes and heartfelt photos of Kobe and Gianna since their deaths. Hours before their one-year anniversary, she shared a letter via Instagram from her late daughter’s close friend.

Vanessa captioned it: “Today I received this sweet letter from one of Gianna’s best friends, Aubrey… Thank you so much for beautifully sharing some of your memories of my Gigi with me and allowing me to share them here on my IG.”

“My Gigi is INCREDIBLE and I truly appreciate your thoughtful letter. She loves you so much. I miss my baby girl and Kob-Kob so much, too. I will never understand why/how this tragedy could’ve happened to such beautiful, kind and amazing human beings. It still doesn’t seem real. Kob, we did it right. Gigi, you still make mommy proud. I love you!”

Vanessa concluded the post with the hashtags “#PlayGigisWay,”  “#Mambacita,”  “#Mamba,”  “#DaddysGirl” and “#GirlDad.”