NBA Rumor: Kobe Bryant Death

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The county of Los Angeles said it took “corrective personnel actions” against any employees who improperly shared photos from the scene of Kobe Bryant’s death last year, but said the photos were not publicly disseminated and that Bryant’s widow is wrong to file a lawsuit over it. The county gave this account in a court filing recently submitted in response to the lawsuit filed last year by Vanessa Bryant, widow of the basketball legend. She is suing the county for invasion of privacy and has accused four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies of improperly sharing photos of the dead at the site of Bryant’s fatal helicopter crash in January 2020, including one who allegedly showed the photos at a bar two days after the accident.

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In an Instagram post Wednesday, Vanessa Bryant named four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies who allegedly took and shared unauthorised graphic photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband Kobe, daughter Gianna and seven others. Bryant posted images of lawsuit documents she filed against Los Angeles County, the sheriff’s department, the county fire department and the four deputies in question. Those names were initially redacted while a judge determined whether they could be revealed, a decision that went in her favour earlier this month.

Vanessa Bryant wants to publicly name four Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who her lawyers allege shared “unauthorized” photos of the site of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, their daughter and seven others. County lawyers, however, want to keep the deputies’ names under seal, arguing that releasing them would make the deputies’ addresses and other personal information only a click away on the internet and that hackers could target them.

Bryant’s lawyers, led by Luis Li, a former top L.A. city prosecutor, said in court papers that the county could not cite a single case in which a police officer being sued for civil rights violations has been allowed to remain anonymous. The lawyers argued there is no compelling reason to hide the deputies’ identities, noting that the case cited as precedent by the county in its effort to hide the identities involves sexual harassment victims.

The suit alleges that a deputy trainee guarding a trail that leads to the crash site also received multiple photos of Bryant’s remains and shared them with others, “including several members of the public.” Two days after the crash, he showed the photos to his niece, the suit said. The deputy trainee later went to a Norwalk bar and showed gruesome photographs from the crash scene to a woman and a bartender, and is seen on the bar security camera zooming in and out on the images while displaying them to the bartender, according to the suit. One of the photos showed a girl’s body and another of the basketball star, according to the amended complaint.

The NTSB said in June it found evidence showing Zobayan thought he was ascending over the fog, when in reality, the helicopter was going downward. Autopsy results showed Zobayan was NOT on alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash … and NTSB investigators said Zobayan’s girlfriend told them he was in great shape before the accident. Unclear if there’s new evidence to refute the earlier theory, but it seems likely to us the NTSB will confirm its earlier findings.

Derek Fisher: One of the many ways I am reminded of how special they are and how they are still sending us love is how often I glance at my phone during a hectic day to check the time and it’s 2:24 and they’re both smiling right at me like “what’s up Fish?!” and instantly my perspective shifts to what really matters. Your loss and the loss of those with you on this day 1 year ago will leave a hole in our hearts forever. We miss you both. The world really misses you both. We lift your families up in prayer. V, the girls, your family as well as the Bryant family. We lift all the families up in prayer ????

With emotions still raw, the Lakers organization has no plans to make this Tuesday, Jan. 26, any more difficult than it already will be by placing any further emphasis on the anniversary, sources told ESPN. There will be no Black Mamba uniforms worn Monday in Cleveland, the day before the anniversary, or Wednesday in Philadelphia, the day after. There will be no formal tribute, which could potentially draw more attention to the harrowing details of the accident and cause more trauma than healing.

The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a hearing on Feb. 9 to determine the cause of the helicopter crash a year ago that killed Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others when it struck a fog-covered hillside in Calabasas. The NTSB, in a preliminary report, ruled out engine and mechanical failure on the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter. But it has yet to provide a probable cause for the Jan. 26, 2020 crash.

Zobayan told air traffic control they were “climbing” to 4,000 feet, when in reality the aircraft was descending. The NTSB’s aircraft performance study said the helicopter banked left and away from the 101 Freeway while communicating with the controller. According to the study, the pilot “could have misperceived both pitch and roll angles,” according to the NTSB documents. “When a pilot misperceives altitude and acceleration it is known as the ‘somatogravic illusion’ and can cause spatial disorientation,” the report said. In other words, acceleration could cause a pilot to sense his aircraft was climbing when it was not.

Describe the day you learned about the Kobe Bryant tragedy. Steve Nash: I was playing at tennis in L.A., and I felt … almost nothing, in that I just went cold and numb, and I don’t know if it was a defense mechanism, shock or … It took me a long time to really — and I still think I’m coming to grips with it’s actually true. It doesn’t feel real. Having competed my whole career against him, playing with him for a year basically, I hadn’t seen him probably since 2016, and so, you always feel like he’s there and we’ll cross paths one day again. It’s been very difficult for me to come to grips with it.

Vanessa Bryant has denied that she kicked her mom out of her home and attacked her for having the ‘audacity’ to make these claims in a TV interview while she is grieving the loss of her husband Kobe and their daughter Gianna. The widow of NBA star Kobe was forced to defend herself after her mother Sofia Laine gave an explosive interview to Univision airing Monday where she wept that her daughter had evicted her and stripped her of some of her belongings.

Bryant blasted Laine for ‘shedding tears for a car and a house that were not in her name’ while she continues to mourn for Kobe and 13-year-old Gianna, who both died in a tragic California helicopter crash back in January. She accused her mom of hiding her diamonds and furniture ‘to make it look like she doesn’t have my support’ and slammed her for proving what is ‘most important’ to her.

Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the estate of pilot Ara Zobayan and the helicopter company, Island Express Helicopters, on Feb. 24 — the day of Kobe and Gianna’s public memorial at the Staples Center. On Friday, according to court documents obtained by USA TODAY Sports, lawyers representing the Zobayan estate filed a motion to move the trial from Los Angeles to Orange County (or elsewhere), where the defense team believes a fairer trial can take place, despite its close proximity to LA. All of the victims of the crash resided in Orange County.

The family of Ara Zobayan is begging a judge to move Vanessa Bryant’s wrongful death case out of L.A. because Kobe Bryant is so popular there, it would be impossible to get a fair trial. Ara’s family spelled it out in new court docs, obtained by TMZ Sports … saying the trial would begin with “two strikes” already against him “due to the extreme level of popularity of plaintiff with the jury pool.” As we previously reported, Vanessa sued Zobayan along with Island Express Helicopters saying they should be held financially responsible for the crash that killed Kobe, Gianna and 6 other passengers.

“The notoriety and popularity of the late Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles County is detailed herein and reached a level that left no person in the county unaware of his role in branding Los Angeles as his city,” Zobayan’s family says in new court docs. “No other single individual in recent memory, sports figure or otherwise, has been considered by the people to be such a personification of their city of Los Angeles. ” “But with that unprecedented level of acclaim comes a lack of impartiality and objectivity by potential jurors about the merits under the law of the claims asserted in this lawsuit by the Bryant family.”

Cate Brady, a personal assistant to Bryant, has told National Transportation Safety Board investigators that the NBA legend asked for the doomed flight to be moved forward 45 minutes. Brady said the original flight time for Sunday was 9:45 am, but Bryant had it rescheduled to 9am because he wanted to see another team play before his daughter’s game at a youth basketball tournament. “That particular day, for Sunday, I actually changed the time the night before, probably around 6pm or 7pm,” Brady said. “Because Kobe had decided he wanted to go to watch another team play before his game. “So it was supposed to be a 9:45am departure, but the night before it was changed to a 9am departure.”

Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late Kobe Bryant, is urging Congress to pass a new helicopter safety bill named for her husband and daughter who were killed in a crash earlier this year. “I strongly urge that the United States Congress pass a federal law that would improve the safety of helicopters operating in this country,” she said in statement. “I believe there is a chance that Kobe and Gianna would still be alive today if their helicopter had been equipped with the safety equipment required by this pending federal legislation.”

Cate Brady, a personal assistant to Bryant, has told National Transportation Safety Board investigators that the NBA legend asked for the doomed flight to be moved forward 45 minutes. Brady said the original flight time for Sunday was 9:45 am, but Bryant had it rescheduled to 9am because he wanted to see another team play before his daughter’s game at a youth basketball tournament. “That particular day, for Sunday, I actually changed the time the night before, probably around 6pm or 7pm,” Brady said. “Because Kobe had decided he wanted to go to watch another team play before his game. “So it was supposed to be a 9:45am departure, but the night before it was changed to a 9am departure.”

Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late Kobe Bryant, is urging Congress to pass a new helicopter safety bill named for her husband and daughter who were killed in a crash earlier this year. “I strongly urge that the United States Congress pass a federal law that would improve the safety of helicopters operating in this country,” she said in statement. “I believe there is a chance that Kobe and Gianna would still be alive today if their helicopter had been equipped with the safety equipment required by this pending federal legislation.”

Kobe Bryant's helicopter pilot may have been disoriented at time of crash

The pilot of the helicopter that crashed in thick fog, killing Kobe Bryant and seven other passengers, reported he was climbing when he actually was descending, federal investigators said in documents released Wednesday. Ara Zobayan radioed to air traffic controllers that he was climbing to 4,000 feet to get above clouds on Jan. 26 when, in fact, the helicopter was plunging toward a hillside where it crashed northwest of Los Angeles.

The report by the National Transportation Safety Board said Zobayan may have “misperceived” the angles at which he was descending and banking, which can happen when a pilot becomes disoriented in low visibility. “Calculated apparent angles at this time show that the pilot could have misperceived both pitch and roll angles,” one report stated. “During the final descent the pilot, responding to (air traffic control), stated that they were climbing to four thousand.”

During his two seasons as Bryant’s teammate, Black and Bryant became close. As luck would have it, an injury during his 2019-20 season in Israel sent him back to Los Angeles earlier than normal and he was able to see Bryant one final time just a week before the helicopter accident. It was the first time the two had seen each other since their days as teammates. And Black, unaware of what fate lied ahead, made sure to make the encounter count. “I actually got a chance to thank him for what he meant for my life,” Black said. “And he just kept saying, ‘I’m proud of you.’ So it rocked me to my core when I heard about his passing.”

So, here’s how it breaks down. Island Express says in its answer, “Kobe Bryant and GB [Gigi] had actual knowledge of all of the circumstances, particular dangers, and an appreciation of the risks involved and the magnitude thereof, and proceeded to encounter a known risk, and voluntarily assumed the risk of the accident, injury … thereby barring or reducing [Vanessa’s] claim for damages.” Island Express never explains how a 13-year-old girl appreciates such risks, and while we’re on the subject, did anyone know helicopters are so dangerous that passengers who dare to board do so at their own peril? If that’s the case, how come Island Express didn’t have a big sign in front of the helicopter?

The answer to the complaint filed by Berge Zobayan in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday disputed the lawsuit’s claims. “Any injuries or damages to plaintiffs and/or their decedent were directly caused in full or in part by the negligence or fault of plaintiffs and/or their decedent, including their knowing and voluntary encounter with the risks involved, and that this negligence was a substantial factor in causing their purported damages, for which this answering defendant bears no responsibility,” the answer said.

Family members of four of the eight passengers killed in a helicopter crash with Kobe Bryant and his daughter have joined the NBA star’s widow in filing wrongful death lawsuits against the companies that owned and operated the aircraft. The suits on behalf of three members of one family, and a woman who helped coach Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter in basketball, were filed electronically Sunday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The pair of lawsuits comes about two months after Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, the mother of Gianna, also sued Island Express Helicopters Inc., which operated the Sikorsky, and its owner, Island Express Holding Corp.

Family members of four of the eight passengers killed in a helicopter crash with Kobe Bryant and his daughter have joined the NBA star’s widow in filing wrongful death lawsuits against the companies that owned and operated the aircraft. The suits on behalf of three members of one family, and a woman who helped coach Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter in basketball, were filed electronically Sunday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The pair of lawsuits comes about two months after Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, the mother of Gianna, also sued Island Express Helicopters Inc., which operated the Sikorsky, and its owner, Island Express Holding Corp.

The families of four of the victims who perished in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, have filed wrongful death lawsuits themselves — this after Vanessa Bryant has already gone after the chopper company in court. The surviving members of the Altobelli family and Mauser family — the remaining two Altobelli children and Christina Mauser’s husband, her son and 2 daughters, respectively — claim the Island Express’s negligence was reason for the death of their loved ones.

The families of four of the victims who perished in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, have filed wrongful death lawsuits themselves — this after Vanessa Bryant has already gone after the chopper company in court. The surviving members of the Altobelli family and Mauser family — the remaining two Altobelli children and Christina Mauser’s husband, her son and 2 daughters, respectively — claim the Island Express’s negligence was reason for the death of their loved ones.

Gasol paused and collected his thoughts, then recalled the moment the Lakers were on the podium inside Staples Center receiving the championship trophy. He talked about how Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, were there on the stage celebrating the title, how Lakers owner Jerry Buss, NBA Commissioner David Stern, Lakers assistant coach Frank Hamblen and ESPN’s Stuart Scott were also there on that magical night. Gasol sighed, then slowly remarked that they had all died. “All those people … now 10 years later they are not here with us,” Gasol said during an interview with The Times. “Obviously Kobe and Gigi, which breaks my heart every time I think about it, and seeing Vanessa and the kids. It was a lot. That’s why I got emotional and I think about it. I still do.”

Zach Lowe wondered how World Peace coped with Bryant’s death. He recalled being on a plane to Europe with his wife on Feb. 26. The in-flight movie ended with someone’s death. Suddenly, he was overcome with tears. “I couldn’t control my crying because I’ve been suppressing it,” World Peace said. “It comes in waves. On the plane, I’m like, ‘What am I crying for?’ It’s something you don’t cope with. I’m not trying to make it better. I don’t want it to get better. Time heals all wounds.”

The family of Kobe Bryant visited a mural honoring the late NBA icon and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. The mural in Los Angeles depicts Bryant kissing Gianna on the head, with a halo hovering over them. Bryant and Gianna were among the nine people killed in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. On Sunday, Bryant’s eldest daughter, 17-year-old Natalia, posed for a photo in front of the mural.

In the days following Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter crash, fans all over the world mourned the NBA all-star’s death. And some were also motivated to protect their own families if something terrible happened to them. The volume of life insurance application requests and submissions spiked in the days after the 41-year-old’s death on Jan. 26, 2020, according to True Blue Life Insurance, an online aggregator and comparison site for life insurance.

Bryant’s death shook Tatum. When the news broke, he was spending time with his dad, Justin Tatum, in New Orleans before the Celtics’ team bus was scheduled to leave for the arena. “We were in our jolly moment, sitting there munching on our Popeyes sandwiches, talking about things back home,” Tatum’s father recalled. Then Jayson checked his phone notifications and his jaw dropped. No words were spoken for the rest of their meal or walk home to the hotel. “I kind of got sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe it,” Tatum said. “It didn’t seem real at the time. It still doesn’t seem real.”

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker has paid tribute to his idol, Kobe Bryant, with a tattoo. The tattoo which Booker showed on his Instagram Tuesday, simply says “Be Legendary” in cursive writing on one of his forearms. But it has a story behind it. Bryant wrote those words on a shoe of his that he gave to Booker after playing in a game against the Suns in 2016, Bryant’s final year in the NBA. Booker had Bryant’s writing on the shoe used for his tattoo.

After The Times disclosed last week that the deputies shared the photos, Villanueva said he would launch an investigation. But now there are mounting demands for an independent inquiry into the matter, the latest in a series of scandals to afflict the nation’s largest sheriff’s department in recent years. Patti Giggans, chair of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, said she expects Villanueva to find out what happened in a timely way, but that the destruction of photos “looks like a cover-up of misconduct.” She added, “I’m hoping that that’s not the case.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said eight deputies allegedly took or shared graphic photos of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash scene, but he ordered them deleted. “That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist,” Villanueva told NBC News for a story Monday. “We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we’re content that those involved did that.”

The widow of basketball star Kobe Bryant is “absolutely devastated” by allegations that deputies shared graphic photos of the helicopter crash scene where Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed, her lawyer said in a statement Saturday. The Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday that a public safety source with knowledge of the events had seen one of the photos on the phone of another official in a setting that was not related to the investigation of the crash. He said the photos showed the scene and victims’ remains. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the allegations.

Vanessa Bryant’s lawyer, Gary Robb, said that she went to the sheriff’s office on Jan. 26, the day of the crash, “and requested that the area be designated a no-fly zone and protected from photographers.” “This was of critical importance to her as she desired to protect the dignity of all the victims, and their families. At that time, Sheriff Alex Villanueva assured us all measures would be put in place to protect the families’ privacy, and it is our understanding that he has worked hard to honor those requests,” Robb said.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ, multiple L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies who responded to the crash scene took photos that included remains. We’re told one of the deputies — a trainee — took photos and at some point went to a bar and, as one source put it, “He tried to impress a girl by showing her the photos.” We’re told the bartender overheard the conversation and filed an online complaint with the Sheriff’s Dept. We’re also told the cell phone photos were passed around at the Lost Hills Sheriff’s substation — the first responders to the crash. Sources say deputies from other substations around L.A. County also took cell phone photos.

The rush to monetize the death of Kobe Bryant started in the hours after the helicopter carrying the retired Lakers star, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others slammed into a hillside in Calabasas on a foggy morning last month. As first responders picked through the wreckage, anonymous speculators registered scores of web domains connected to the tragedy. The address lovekobebryant.com, created about three hours after the crash, went on sale for a buy-now price of $99,999. Among the scores of the site registrations that followed within an hour or two were kobebryanthelicopter.com ($50,000), kobebryanthalloffame.com ($20,000) and kobedead.com ($5,000).

Sometimes, his players Google things. When Kobe Bryant died, “a sad moment,” Wallace said. “Some of the guys were on their little TVs — call them phones — and they saw the [Nike] commercial I did some years back. ‘Oh, Coach, I didn’t know you were in a commercial with Kobe.’ “ “I knew he was an NBA champion,” said Joaquin Davis, a senior forward who has signed a letter of intent to play Division I football at North Carolina Central. “Already knew that off the rip. He was a legend at UNC, so I already knew that. I also knew that he got known for a lot of techs …”

But, we noticed multiple listings had disappeared from eBay over the past 24 hours — so we reached out to eBay to find out what’s up. Turns out, eBay has a policy that prohibits sellers from profiting off of “human tragedy or suffering.” In fact, eBay sent an email to one seller explaining their position — “Please note, due to sudden and tragic passing of Kobe Bryant – eBay has made the decision to prohibit the sale of merchandise, images and mugs relating to their passing.” “We do not allow listings that attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering.”

Sources familiar with Island Express tell TMZ, the company had liability insurance coverage totaling $50 million. Our sources say that’s not an unusual figure, but given the number of people Island Express transports on a single helicopter and the fact rich celebrities used the service … the number is low. Our sources say a more appropriate amount of coverage for the company would have been closer to $100 million. As we reported, Kylie Jenner — a 22-year-old billionaire — also recently took the same Island Express helicopter that crashed.

Bryant was not an active player like Munson when he died, but he remained as synonymous with the Lakers as anyone who had ever worn the purple and gold. I asked Jackson, still a special adviser to the Yankees, for any counsel he would offer if a current Laker were to ask him. “You can’t,” Jackson said. “There’s no giving advice on this. It’s too emotional, too personal. It’s with you every day in L.A.” Jackson would say only that it’s “very important” for a team soaked in sorrow “to have a leader there.” For his Yankees, it was Murcer. For the Lakers, the pillars have been Coach Frank Vogel, General Manager Rob Pelinka (Bryant’s former agent and Gianna Bryant’s godfather) and LeBron.
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