When Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in January of 2020 his wife and Gianna’s mother, Vanessa Bryant, first found out about the tragic incident through social media notifications.

The professional basketball player, who spent 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, had died along with their daughter in a fatal helicopter accident while traveling to a basketball game.

On the morning of the accident, Vanessa’s assistant was the first to tell her there was a crash at all, but wasn’t sure if Kobe and Gianna were injured.


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“[Our assistant] told me that there was an accident and that there were five survivors,” Vanessa recounted. “And I asked her if Gianna and Kobe were okay. And she said she wasn’t sure. She didn’t know.”

That all occurred around 11:30 a.m., which was the same time that TMZ broke the news that Kobe had not survived.

Since she was desperately trying to get ahold of Kobe, Vanessa had her phone in her hand at all times—only to be shocked to be receiving notifications that Kobe was dead.

“As soon as I was on the phone with my mom, I was holding onto my phone, because obviously I was trying to call my husband back, and all these notifications started popping up on my phone, saying, ‘RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe,’” she revealed.


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Vanessa then had to be brave for her other daughters. She remembers picking up her teenage daughter Natalia from an ACT class that morning, telling her that everything was going to be fine. “’Not to worry. ‘I’m sure they’re fine because there’s five survivors. And I’m sure Daddy and Gigi are fine,’” she told her.

When Vanessa was able to get ahold of the authorities, they wouldn’t give her information via phone—they insisted that she had to drive to the closest police station to where the helicopter crashed, which happened to be an hour and a half away. And then when she did get there, she was unable to get a ride to the actual crash site due to weather concerns until much later.

It wasn’t until hours later that she finally got confirmation of the horrible news. As if that wasn’t enough, she was petrified that someone would take and share photos of their dead bodies or remains—something that she wouldn’t be able to recover from. She pleaded that they not do that.

“Emotional distress means that not only do I have to grieve to the loss of my husband and child, but for the rest of my life I’m going to have to fear that these photographs of my husband and child will be leaked,” she said.

“I do not want my little girls or I to ever have to see their remains in that matter,” she continued. “Nor do I think it’s right that the photographs were taken in the first place because it’s already tough enough that I have to experience this heartache and this loss.”

To this day, Vanessa still has to block certain accounts when they begin to share photos of Kobe and Gianna.

Vanessa is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for emotional distress and negligence, among other items.

What would you do if you found out about a family member’s death via social media, and then continued to see posts about it months later?