Vanessa Bryant criticizes LA County sheriff for challenging LeBron James to match reward in deputy ambush shooting


COMPTON, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — Vanessa Bryant, the widow of late NBA legend Kobe Byrant, made her thoughts clear after the Los Angeles County sheriff challenged Lakers star Lebron James to match a reward offered in the ambush shooting of two deputies.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva suggested during an interview Monday that James should double a $200,000 reward offered for information leading to the gunman’s arrest.

Villanueva originally mentioned it during a radio interview with 790KABC.

“This challenge is to LeBron James,” Villanueva said during the interview. “I want you to match that and double that reward. Because I know you care about law enforcement. You expressed a very, very interesting statement about your perspective on race relations and on officer-involved shootings and the impact it has on the African American community, and I appreciate that. But likewise, we need to appreciate the respect for life goes across professions, across races, creeds. And I’d like to see LeBron James step up to the plate and double that.”

Villanueva then reiterated his statement to NewsNation affiliate KTLA, saying, “Well we asked him to match the reward money that had been put on the plate today from the Board of Supervisors. We haven’t heard back from him but we have heard from other organizations that are stepping up and private individuals. They have now brought the total amount to close to 250 [thousand dollars].”

Vanessa Bryant, who is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after deputies allegedly shared photos from the helicopter crash site where her husband Kobe, daughter Gianna, and seven others who died, responded in her Instagram story.

Bryant incorporated screenshots of tweets from a Twitter user named @ElanMaree including one that read:

“He shouldn’t be challenging LeBron James to match a reward or ‘to step up to the plate.’ He couldn’t even ‘step up to the plate’ and hold his deputies accountable for photographing dead children.”


Another tweet questioned how Sheriff Villanueva could ask athletes and others to trust the criminal justice system when “His sheriff’s dept. couldn’t be trusted to secure Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash scene.”

Bryant also included a quote from Mayor Eric Garcetti condemning the shootings of the two deputies, adding the message: “Not all deputies are bad apples. Prayers for the 2 deputies that were shot.”

James had not commented on Sheriff Villanueva’s interview, as of Wednesday morning.

The reward originally was $100,000 Monday morning before increasing more than $200,000 on Tuesday in part due to private donors.

Video showed the two deputies tending to one another after they were shot in the head in following the ambush. The two deputies were shot at point-blank range while sitting inside their patrol car in Compton near a Metro station.

The two deputies are in the ICU and in stable condition.

The search for the gunman and potential accompliance is still underway.

NewsNation affiliate KTLA and Nexstar Media Wire contributed to this report.

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