When Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash in January of 2020, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka lost a dear friend. Six months after the fatal accident, Pelinka and Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, visited the crash site to pay tribute to their loved ones.
Testifying in a Los Angeles federal court, Pelinka said that he and Vanessa Bryant felt it was necessary to visit the place where Kobe and Gianna lost their lives, according to a report from Insider. The pair took an ATV the hillside location where the helicopter went down.
“Part of her journey of grief and healing was that she wanted to touch the soil from where they went to heaven,” Pelinka said, via Insider. “We just knew that they were with us.”
Pelinka worked as Bryant’s agent throughout his career, and the two formed a close bond in that time. Pelinka said being friends with Bryant was an experience unlike any other.
“He’s still my best friend,” Pelinka said. “Being friends with Kobe was like having a true superhero as a best friend.”
Pelinka was testifying in court as part of Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against the Los Angeles County sheriff and fire departments. Bryant alleges that deputies did not take photos of the crash site for investigative purposes. Instead, she claims that those photos were shared with co-workers and on social media.
Bryant’s suit also accuses officer Joey Cruz of showing the graphic photos to a bartender at Baja California Bar in Norwalk, Calif. She is seeking millions of dollars in compensation for the distress caused by knowing those photos are being circulated in the public.
“Mrs. Bryant feels ill at the thought that sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, and members of the public have gawked at gratuitous images of her deceased husband and child,” the lawsuit states. “She lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online.”
Since the crash, California has implemented a new law that prohibits first responders from take unauthorized photos of deceased victims at the scene of a crash.