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Vanessa Bryant learned of Kobe and Gianna's deaths on social media via notifications that read 'RIP Kobe,' new deposition says

Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter Gianna in Los Angeles.
Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter Gianna in Los Angeles.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo

  • Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant's widow, said she learned of his and their daughter's death on social media.
  • In a new deposition, Bryant said the sheriff's office didn't immediately tell her what happened. 
  • The deposition was part of Bryant's lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Vanessa Bryant learned her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their daughter Gianna Bryant died in a helicopter crash through social media messages as she received notifications that said "RIP Kobe," she said in a new deposition filed Friday.

"My life will never be the same without my husband and daughter," Bryant said, according to a transcript of the deposition that was held for a lawsuit she filed against Los Angeles County.

According to the transcript, Bryant said on January 26, 2020, the day of the helicopter crash that killed nine people including Kobe and Gianna Bryant, her family assistant told her around 11:30 a.m. that there had been an accident.

Bryant said the assistant said five people survived and she was hopeful Kobe and Gianna were amongst them.

"I just felt, I knew that they would be helping people," Bryant said.



Bryant said as she was trying to call her husband, "notifications started popping up on my phone, saying RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe," according to the deposition.

Bryant went to the airport and tried to get on a helicopter to take her to the crash site but was told the weather conditions wouldn't allow it, she said.

At the airport, she saw Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka. Bryant said Pelinka drove her an hour and 45 minutes to the sheriff's station in Malibu where it would take hours for her to get answers, the deposition said. 

She said once she arrived at the station, she was repeatedly moved from room to room and was not given any information about her husband or daughter.

"They weren't prepared. We got there. And I kept asking if my husband and daughter were okay. No one would answer me," Bryant said in the deposition.

Around 1:30 p.m., Bryant said  Sheriff Alex Villanueva walked in with a publicist, who left upon Bryant's request. Villanueva then told her what happened to Kobe and Gianna.

Bryant said she told Villanueva: "If you can't bring my husband and baby back, please make sure no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area."

Villanueva said he would and then went to go make a call to have the area secured, Bryant said. Bryant said she then snuck out the back of the office as they were preparing for a press conference, according to the deposition. 

The deposition was part of a lawsuit Bryant filed against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in September 2020. She accused sheriff's deputies of sharing photos of the crash site and said the deputies' actions caused an "intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of her right to privacy."

Last week, Los Angeles County asked Bryant and others involved in the lawsuit to take a psychiatric exam before trial to determine whether they suffered emotional distress because of the leaked pictures or because of the crash itself.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department did not immediately provide comment when contacted by Insider.

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