Vanessa Bryant is currently in the middle of her trial against Los Angeles County regarding the Kobe Bryant crash photos, but that didn’t stop her from observing the late NBA champion’s birthday on Aug. 23. “Happy birthday, baby!” Vanessa, 40, captioned a photo she posted on her Instagram. The picture was taken in 2009 when Kobe won his fourth NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers and his first NBA Finals MVP. “I love you and miss you so much!” she added.
Fans filled the comments section with heart emojis and well-wishes. “Happy Birthday King Kobe.” “Happy birthday to the GOAT.” “Happy Birthday, KB. Boy, did you marry the right person.” “Happy birthday to the one and only! Sending tons of love!!!!!!” “Happy birthday to your Kobe.” “Happy Birthday Kobe! You are so missed.” “Love you V! Happy birthday to your love.”
Kobe died in 2020 alongside his and Vanessa’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, in a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of seven others. In mid-August 2022, Vanessa’s trial against Los Angeles County began. Vanessa sued the county in 2020 after a Los Angeles Times article detailed how first responders to the Calabasas crash scene took and shared photos of Kobe and Gigi with strangers. “County employees exploited the accident,” Vanessa’s lawyer Luis Li said in the opening remarks. “They took and shared pictures of Kobe and Gianna as souvenirs. …They poured salt in an unhealable wound.”
Li said a whistleblower at the Baja California Bar & Grill in Norwalk, California, filed a complaint when Deputy Joey Cruz showed a photo of Kobe’s decapitated body to bartenders. The lawsuit – which was joined to a similar lawsuit filed by Chris Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the same crash – claimed that firefighters and police officers shared photos with strangers, violating the grieving families’ privacy and causing severe emotional distress.
When Vanessa testified for the first time in the trial, she said she lives in terror that these photos may someday show up on social media. Vanessa said she was left “blindsided, devastated, hurt, and betrayed” by these first responders. On Monday (Aug. 22), Vanessa returned to court with her and Kobe’s 19-year-old daughter, Natalie Bryant. The mother-daughter duo walked hand-in-hand for the second full week of this ongoing trial.