The world was rocked over the weekend with the news that 41-year-old former Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash.
Listen to the GOAT team unpack Kobe Bryant’s life and complicated past in the most recent episode of It’s Been A Big Day For… below:
Bryant and his daughter were among nine people killed in the crash, which occurred in Calabasas, California on Sunday morning.
Following Bryant’s tragic death, words of condolence began flooding social media from his famous friends and fans, and the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards featured numerous tributes to the late great NBA legend in both performances and speeches.
Despite a lasting legacy and a career full of countless highs, Bryant also experienced lows throughout his life, including accusations of sexual assault in 2003.
The case was eventually dropped when Bryant’s accuser refused to testify and was later settled out of court after the woman filed a separate civil suit against him in 2004.
In his apology to the woman, Bryant said, “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognise 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.”
After news of Bryant’s death broke, Felicia Sonmez – a reporter for The Washington Post – was suspended after she tweeted an old article about the NBA player being accused of sexual assault.
Sonmez’s tweet, and subsequent suspension, lead to a heated social media debate about people either completely ignoring Bryant’s sexual assault case, or making it their only focus.
Danielle Cadet, the Managing Editor of Refinery29, put it best when she tweeted, “It’s possible to feel overwhelming sadness for Vanessa Bryant and her remaining daughters AND acknowledge Kobe Bryant as an iconic athlete AND believe victims of sexual violence. It’s complicated. And that’s ok.”
Bryant was an incredible athlete, father, husband and friend, although no human is perfect – and that is something he admitted himself in his 2003 apology. These situations are incredibly nuanced and it is possible to celebrate the life of someone you admire while acknowledging their complicated past.
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