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Shaquille O’Neal Weighs In On Vanessa Bryant’s Ongoing Trial Over Kobe Bryant Photos

Shaq roasting Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA
(Image credit: Inside the NBA)

For over a week now, Vanessa Bryant has been engaged in a trial over photos of her late husband, Kobe Bryant, their daughter, Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020. Vanessa is suing Los Angeles County for negligence and invasion of privacy due to the dissemination of crash site photos taken by first responders. As the emotionally-charged case has pushed on, her husband’s former NBA colleagues have seemingly remained silent on the situation, likely out of respect. But now, Shaquille O’Neal has shared some thoughts on the case involving his teammate’s widow. 

Shaquille O’Neal is usually a person who has no problem being honest, sometimes in brutal fashion, as evidenced by some of the remarks he’s shared just over the past few months. (Shaq’s comments on Kanye West and Pete Davidson’s beef are still ringing in my ear.) When asked about Vanessa Bryant’s ongoing legal battle, O’Neal had nothing but compassion, though. The hall of famer admitted to ET that while he’s not incredibly close to Bryant, he supports her efforts in the courtroom:

I feel for her. We’ve never talked a lot [but] we’ve always had respect for each other. Every time I see her, it’s a hug, it’s a laugh. But I couldn’t imagine what she's going through. We live in a world where, especially when it gets to the internet, people don't care. But those are pictures that I would never, ever want to see, so she's doing a great thing by holding people responsible.

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were Los Angeles Lakers teammates for eight years, bringing the storied NBA franchise three championships during their run. While both had camaraderie both on and off the court, growing tensions began to rise between the two over their roles on the team and Shaq’s reported salary demands. With that, in 2004, O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat, where he won a fourth championship title. However, in 2018, he made amends with Bryant, who’d managed to win two additional titles of his own before retiring. With this, it’s understandable that O’Neal would be in Vanessa Bryant’s corner at this time. 

Since Kobe Bryant’s death, Shaq has honored his late colleague and friend in a number of ways. After news of the basketball great’s passing broke, The Diesel emotionally paid tribute during an installment of TNT’s Inside the NBA. Shaq also marked the one-year anniversary of Bryant’s death by checking in on the deceased star’s parents. 

More recently, like many of us, the fifteen-time NBA all-star can only watch, as the legal proceedings between Vanessa Bryant and L.A. County continue to play out. Over the past week, the judge and jurors have heard testimonies from a number of people, particularly law enforcement officials who were on the scene at the helicopter crash that day. One person to take the stand was Sheriff’s Deputy Doug Johnson, who testified that he did nothing wrong by taking 25 photos, which he says he deleted later that night. A former fire captain also testified, saying that what he saw that day will “haunt” him forever. 

“Emotional distress” is at the heart of Vanessa Bryant’s case, and she’s aiming to receive millions of dollars in restitution. It’s, of course, unclear as to how the judge might rule at this point. But it’s likely that as the trial continues, Bryant will still have the support of Shaquille O’Neal and others.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.