The first anniversary of the shocking death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant is approaching, and his widow is unable to put the tragedy behind her. Vanessa Bryant lost both her husband and their daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash last January. Now, she’s lost her relationship with her mother because of a bruising battle over money.
Kobe Bryant’s death has created a tangled web of lawsuits
Calling photos of the helicopter crash that killed retired Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant and eight others “abhorrent and inappropriate,” the husband of one of the victims is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in an action similar to one taken by Vanessa Bryant.
Mamba Academy girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, 38, was a victim of the Jan. 26, 2020, tragedy that also claimed Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and six others. Matthew Mauser sued on Dec. 16, filing court papers citing emotional distress, invasion of privacy, humiliation, and anxiety over deputies’ photos unrelated to the official investigation. Court documents point to at least eight deputies taking photographs of those killed, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Vanessa Bryant and families of other victims of the crash filed a wrongful death suit one month after the tragedy against the company that operated the helicopter. Her lawsuit also named the pilot’s estate as a defendant, triggering a legal filing by his family.
Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit was moved to federal court in October after the company operating the helicopter filed a cross-complaint against two federal air-traffic controllers.
Kobe Bryant’s widow received an outpouring of support
The crash that killed husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna led to strong shows of support for Vanessa Bryant from the basketball community and others last winter. The speakers at a public memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 24 included retired NBA greats Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal.
The Grammy Awards in Los Angeles went on as scheduled the day of the helicopter crash with several last-minute changes that included a speech by Alicia Keys and a performance by Boyz II Men. Ceremonies at the LA Lakers’ Jan. 31 nationally televised game included performances by Usher and Wiz Khalifa as well as a speech by LeBron James.
Rules for the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 16 were changed, turning each quarter into a mini-game supporting charities. The league instituted an untimed fourth quarter to incorporate the No. 24 on Bryant’s jersey into the rules for determining a winner.
Additionally, the WNBA made Gianna Bryant an honorary selection in its annual player draft.
Vanessa Bryant is in a vicious fight with her mother
One place where Vanessa Bryant isn’t getting support is from her mother. The widow of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant finds herself fighting off a lawsuit filed by Sofia Laine. Bryant lashed out at her mother after being served with the papers this week. She accused Laine of attempting to “extort a financial windfall from our family,” according to TMZ.
Laine’s suit alleges she served as a nanny who was forced to work around the clock for 18 years without compensation. She also claims her daughter ordered her to vacate the home Kobe Bryant had provided while he was alive.
Vanessa Bryant disputed the assertions contained in the suit and said she had supported her mother for 20 years. Bryant added that Laine never worked as a personal assistant or nanny and that any care provided to the children was along the lines of what a grandparent might typically perform on occasion.
“I have always been a stay-at-home mother and my husband and I were my daughter’s full-time care givers,” Bryant said.
“This lawsuit is frivolous, disgraceful, and unimaginably hurtful,” she added. “My husband never promised my mother anything, and he would be so disappointed in her behavior and lack of empathy.”