Kobe Bryant: Things that even haunt us in the death – The black spots from a glorious life.
Monday morning brought the darkest hour for Basketball fanatics around the world. Retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, died in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California.
Bryant’s sudden death marked the end of an illustrious life which included his 20-season stint with Los Angeles Lakers and two Olympic gold medals for USA. Bryant was a personification of modern basketball and he will surely be immortalized for it.
The news of Bryant’s tragic death led to an outpour of grief from all corners of the world. The former US President Barack Obama along with various sports personalities, celebrities as well as fans paid their tribute to the NBA legend. His fans are discussing about the legacy that Bryant has created as a professional player, father and person which will keep inspiring the generations to come. And then there’s another side of the story too.
The Black Spot In Kobe’s Career
On 30th June, 2003 the NBA star made headlines for not-so-good reasons after being arrested in a sexual assault case in Colorado. This was an incident that hit Bryant’s reputation massively.
A 19-year-old hotel staff accused the Los Angeles Lakers star, then 25, of raping her in his hotel room at The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Edwards, Colorado. The women working as a front-desk clerk confirmed that she accompanied Bryant on a tour of the property. Later, she went to his room to kiss him but Bryant began to grope her and forced himself upon her.
- Accuser’s statement
She told the police, “Every time I said ‘no’, he tightened his hold around me.” Later she also revealed that Bryant warned her saying, “This is just between the two, the two of us, nobody is gonna know about this, you’re not going to tell anybody.”
Bryant who was married to Vanessa at that time had a 5-month-old daughter. He admitted having consensual sex. “I didn’t force her to do anything against her will. I’m innocent,” Bryant told the reporters in a press conference with Vanessa beside him. “I sit here in front of you guys furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery.”
- Police examinations
Upon examination at a hospital, it was confirmed that the woman had body injuries ‘not consistent with consensual sex’. She also had lacerations on her neck and jaw-line which indicated forced sex. Police officials confirmed that woman’s blood was also traced on the t-shirt Bryant wore at the night of the incident. Bryant admitted having choked her but only as part of sexual fantasy.
- Rape charges dropped
On 1st September, 2004, the prosecutors dropped the charges after the accuser denied testifying in the civil court. In one of the leaked email transcripts, a DNA excerpt confirmed that Bryant’s accuser had sex with someone else after the alleged rape. It took 14 months for the case to be resolved. Later in August 2004, a civil suit was brought by the accuser that was settled out of the court for an undisclosed amount on 2nd March, 2005 which finally brought an end to the allegations that spurred talks worldwide.
- Bryant’s statement
In a public statement Bryant said, “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.” “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter,” Bryant was quoted.
As a result of this incident, Bryant lost his advertisement campaigns with Coca-Cola and Nike which were later regained by him in July 2005.
Rape Charges Haunt Back
Being a tough character throughout his life, Bryant continued playing for the Lakers. He played in 65 games in the 2003-2004 season and scored an average of 25 points per game – a performance worthy of all accolades after the rough phase in his life.
However, the alleged rape allegations came back to haunt him in 2018. Around 17,000 people signed a petition asking him to be stripped of his Academy Awards nomination for his animated short film ‘Dear Basketball’. Bryant won the Oscar for his film but he was dropped from the jury of Animation Is Film Festival.
Fined for Obscene Remarks
In 2011, Bryant was imposed with a fine of $100,000 for hurling a gay slur at a referee during a game. Owing to his hyper-competitive nature, he was often involved in verbal disputes with other players and match officials. However, his spirit of winning was something that was never questioned.
Over time Bryant made sure to restore his lost reputation by being competitive on the court, a loving husband to Vanessa who always stood beside him and a strong father-figure for his daughters.
Despite his various on-court accomplishments, the false rape allegation turned out as a turning point in Kobe Bryant’s life. All his reputation was robbed off in a matter of time. This eventually turned out to be a ‘black spot’ in a career that was otherwise full of various remarkable accolades.
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