Trigger warning: Mention and details of sexual assault

Edited on Jan. 31 to match in-print version.

Former NBA player Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday. He was 41 years old.

Others who died in the crash included Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gigi, as well as some of Gigi’s peers and basketball coaches.

Soon after the news of Bryant’s death began to spread, numerous tributes, homages and articles recounting Bryant’s illustrious NBA career began making their rounds. The Grammys even opened their ceremony with a tribute to Bryant by Alicia Keys to kick off the night. Noticeably absent from much of coverage and look-back on Bryant’s life was the fact that he was credibly accused of raping someone back in 2003, as reported by the Daily Beast and many other news outlets.

Bryant was arrested at the time and charged, but the charges were dropped after the victim decided not to testify against him. In 2005, a civil case was brought against Bryant and settled out of court.

According to several news reports, Bryant, who was 25 at the time, had checked into a hotel in Edwards, Colo., a few days before he was scheduled to have surgery nearby. There, he flirted with a 19-year-old hotel worker who later gave him a tour of the hotel. The woman, according to police reports referenced in The Daily Beast, then accepted Bryant’s invitation to his hotel room where they began talking and eventually kissing. Once Bryant began to grope her and take off his pants, the woman said she tried to leave. It was at that point that Bryant forced himself on her, began choking her, raped her from behind and then told her, “[This] is just between the two, the two of us, nobody is gonna know about this, you’re not going to tell anybody.”­

In the hours after the assault, the woman did everything one is “supposed” to do when raped.

She went to the police and recounted her story. She did a rape kit.

The hospital examination found that the woman had a bruise on her jawline, and small amounts of blood were found on Bryant’s clothes. The woman also suffered several lacerations inside her vagina, ones that the detective said were “consistent with penetrating genital trauma” and “not consistent with consensual sex.”

When initially arrested for assaulting the woman, Bryant denied having had sex with her at all. It wasn’t until detectives told Bryant that the woman had consented to medical examination, that Bryant admitted to having sex with her. He argued that it was consensual.

And yet, the victim’s statement referenced in The Daily Beast’s piece states that every time the victim said “no,” she said that Bryant tightened his hold around her neck.

In his own public statement, Bryant continued to defend his position.

“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,” his statement said.

In the public frenzy that followed, Bryant was staunchly defended by his fans while the victim’s name was leaked numerous times. She received death threats. He received MVP awards. She was slut-shamed by Bryant’s lawyers. He lost endorsements but almost immediately got them back. She went away quietly. He became a sports legend.

When I first posted angrily on Facebook about how Bryant doesn’t deserve anyone’s grief, I got a lot of pushback. People unfriended me. One person even personally reached out to say that I could no longer use them as a professional contact.

Arguments were made in Bryant’s defense.

“His daughter died, too.”

“He’s not even in the ground yet.”

“It’s too soon.”

“Maybe he didn’t do it.”

“Maybe he didn’t do it.”

“Maybe he didn’t do it.”

Let’s take a look at that one.

Now, it’s not lost on me that Bryant is a black man accused of raping a white woman. The fraught and often times insidious history of white women accusing black men of rape is a well-known and disturbing pattern in our country. Often times these historical accusations were false and led to the systematic lynchings of black men time and time again. But I would argue that there’s another important dynamic at play here.

Bryant wielded the power and prestige as one of the most famous, successful basketball players in history. In the years prior, from 2000 to 2002, he helped lead the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships. At 23, he became the youngest player to win three championships. Besides, Shaquille O’Neal, his teammate, and Michael Jordan, he was arguably the most famous athlete in the sport. Possibly all around.

Now, we all know, or should know, how power and influence can be used to change outcomes. That’s how serial rapists like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby got away with assaulting women for decades.

Sure, Bryant didn’t rape several women, he was credibly accused of raping one. But his power, built-in credibility, status and wealth cannot be denied when contemplating this case.

According to a police report obtained by the Daily Beast, Bryant even copped to this idea of using his wealth and power to make the case “go away.”

“I should have done what Shaq does,” Bryant said, “Shaq gives them money or buys them cars, he has already spent one million dollars.” The report added, “Kobe stated that Shaq does this to keep the girls quiet.” (Also, if this is true, why hasn’t anyone reported on Shaq?! Another story for another page.)

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, only 23 percent of sexual assaults are even reported to police. Only 4.6 percent lead to an arrest. Only 0.9 percent get referred to prosecutors. Only 0.5 percent lead to a felony conviction and less than that are incarcerated.

Given these statistics, it’s not hard to see how difficult it would have been to report Bryant to the police in the first place. Then to try and take him to court? It’s no wonder the woman eventually decided to settle out of court.

In fact, one commenter on my Facebook post said that she ran a nonprofit that helped survivors of sexual assault at the time of Bryant’s case. She noted that both during and after the spectacle, that many women dropped their charges. A news report by Think Progress noted that sexual assault reporting declined dramatically at the alleged victim’s school, the University of Northern Colorado, in the aftermath of the hearing.

For those who say it’s disrespectful to bring up the case so soon after Bryant’s death: How do you think the survivor feels today?

People have complicated relationships with flawed celebrities. We like to put them on pedestals because they not only are extremely talented, but give us hope and aspiration. Every time a kid throws a balled-up piece of paper into a nearby trash can and yells, “Kobe!” is an example of that.

I’m not black. I will never know what Bryant meant as a figure in the black community. Those who have pushed back on my comments likely had very particular and complicated feelings of their own about the now-deceased basketball legend.

I don’t admire Bryant. Others do because we are all complex.

But just because people are famous and talented doesn’t mean they get to get away with doing horrible things. Bringing up those horrible things isn’t disrespectful; it’s the truth. It may feel inconvenient to you, but it’s what happened.

I don’t mean to cause harm to the black community by bringing it up. But people should be remembered fully and this rape allegation is a part of Bryant’s history and life.

And that should never be forgotten.

36 COMMENTS

  1. what did you witness? what did you see? If you are speaking of what you heard someone else said, you can be called a liar or better still “a rogue” being himself casting aspersion.

  2. I actually googled “is anyone talking about Kobe Bryan’s rape case?” Thanks for not forgetting it, as most of America already has. Whether it’s multiple (Cosby, Weinstein) or one, sexual assault is sexual assault. If he admitted what he did was wrong and then helped support other victims or spoke out to young men about consent, then that’s a different story. It was all swept under the bases of championship trophies.

  3. Here’s some facts that you left out regarding Kobe’s guilt. The “Victim,” cannot be said to have refused to testify in the criminal case because the poor thing had been dragged through the coals by Kobe and his attorney’s. She refused to testify and agreed to drop the criminal charges pursuant to an agreement with Kobe and the attorneys. Kobe would issue an apology, she would not use the apology against him in a criminal case and she was still pursuing a civil case. She could not have withdrawn the criminal case because she was tired of the whole thing or didn’t want to face Kobe and his attorneys in court because she would have had to wait for the civil case to run it’s course and she would have had to face him in civil court. Some are saying he admitted to the rape because of the apology. The apology in full states that he is doing it pursuant to an agreement and that part of the agreement was that his statement would not be used against him. The apology was released by Kobe’s attorney which means it was probably written by him or at the least reviewed and approved by him. It was a non apology to satisfy the terms of the agreement. It also was not an admission. Basically it said, “I didn’t rape you but I’m sorry that you think I did.” Another fact that you left out is that the “victim,” was advised by one of her attorney’s that she was likely to lose in court (civil) because part of the evidence was a DNA report that showed that the “victim,” had sex with someone else after the encounter with Kobe.That means that it could not be proven that the bruising consistent with forcible rape that the hospital found was caused by Kobe. There are also people saying she didn’t do it for money because she didn’t get any money. That is also wrong. She withdrew the civil case pursuant to a money settlement.

  4. Love this!! I totally agree! Why on earth are people honoring this low life! How dare any woman or feminist bemoan his death. Ridiculous. Thank you for posting!!!

  5. A lot of people in my office are too young to even remember what he did. I had to explain the whole thing, much to their shock. Including the “sorry not sorry” letter. Kids today shouting “Kobe!” never saw the Dave Chappelle skit it came from. Its never “too soon” to bring it up. What he did was savage – even the parts he admitted to.

  6. So odd that you bring up ‘false allegations’ of white women lying about black men raping them. Ironically the opposite is also true in that many of the cases were true.
    I can’t help but detect the bias in this masquerading as women’s rights. Another sad fact is the amount of interracial rape from Black men to white women, which this is a much more accurate representation of. But instead you leap to much further in time examples.

    You make me sick.

    If I was a betting girl I would say he raped her, but then she likely enjoyed the out-of-court payday.

    I certainly wouldn’t try to write an article trying to defend a victim then subsequently run her through the mud implying there is a good possibility she lied (because she is white), WHILE avoiding interracial rape statistics.

    Even for his fans whom threatened her because they thought she was lying, they certainly weren’t as callous as you.

  7. You do realize that there are credible medical and law enforcement entities that had credible evidence against him. You didn’t even read the article.

  8. Using Kobe’s quote entirely out of context he wasn’t saying shaq paid girls to keep quite about rape he paid them to keep quite about sleeping with him. The fact that you’re so disingenuous with your reporting or your lack of judgement in what he was talking about is probably the actual reason why you lost your professional contact. I mean you literally acknowledge the history of false rape accusations and then sweep it away by misrepresenting a quote. Congrats.

  9. You have uncritically repeated the Think Progress claim that reports of sexual assault at the University of Northern Colorado declined in the wake of this case. Think Progress offered no evidence for this claim.

    Do you have any? I have not been able to substantiate this particular claim. I am not taking a position on Bryant’s guilt or innocence, I don’t know what happened, and neither do you. But I have seen claims like this reporting claim made in the past without any sourcing.

    Thanks.

  10. You leave out so many relevant facts to this case that lean towards Kobe’s potential innocence. Like the prosecution asking for more time to prep for trial because they knew her rape kit showed she had sex with someone before and after the rape and the judge said that was evidence admissible in the trial. Should it matter that she had different partners before or after the alleged rape? Not always and there are laws protecting rape victims/accusers of this. But in the case of Kobe, it WAS relevant that she had sex with another partner before her rape kit was completed at the hospital. Her sex life should not be a factor especially if it’s used to assassinate her character before or during trial, but if you are going to pursue reporting a rape and getting a rape kit done, you should probably get that done ASAP so it’s not tainted in anyway. So you CAN seek justice. Kobe was facing life in prison and the judge had to let that evidence in because a jury could find reasonable doubt. If there were two other sexual partners around the same time it is harder to prove bruises on her neck were from Kobe. Am I saying Kobe is absolutely innocent? I’m saying the charges were dropped. A jury of his peers did not find him guilty and in America that means you’re innocent. Kobe had to read an apology that was pretty much written by the prosecution (listen if you’re facing life in prison and the prosecution says “read this letter” and we’ll drop the case, innocent or guilty, most people are going to read anything the prosecution tells them to.) AND in the letter it says the defendant was NEVER seeking money and was not paid any money BUT she filed a civil suit before the case even went to trial because if she lost and he wasn’t found guilty she most likely would not have been awarded any money. And in the end…or even before it went to trial i should say, she was awarded 2.5 million dollars. Something else that didn’t look good for the prosecution which was probably another reason they dropped the case. Now is there a chance he did rape her? Absolutely. I’m just saying that I don’t think we advance victim’s rights by taking away defendant’s rights. I couldn’t be a bigger advocate of the #metoo movement but I do respect the people that don’t choose to remember Kobe as a basketball star-American hero AND a rapist. He was never convicted.

  11. You know…this is a great example of how intent doesn’t equal impact. You asked: “For those who say it’s disrespectful to bring up the case so soon after Bryant’s death: How do you think the survivor feels today?” Well, as a survivor, I can tell you that I would not want the media rehashing the details of my assault again 17 years later — without my consent or input. Perhaps she feels the same way. Did you REALLY consider “how the survivor feels today” or did you just presume to know? Did you stop to think about what her life might have looked like last week versus this week?

  12. The NBA makes money primarily through television, merchandising, sponsorships, and tickets… NBA players reap the rewards of the league’s $24 billion TV contract with ESPN/TNT which kicked off last season. Total NBA revenue was expected to hit $8 billion for the 2016-17 season…
    https://tinyurl.com/s87hkn7

  13. What an example of enormous bad taste given the tragedy!

    I love how this article is sectioned under “unpopular opinion.” I guess the author is the only one who really thinks deeply about “important” stuff, as opposed to the masses or the so called monolithic group of black people she addressed earlier on social media. We’re all so clueless about these former allegations that she had to be the one to educate asap! Wow, thank you!!!

    Nope b*tch! You gave a masochistic opinion on something that’s more complicated — for your own benefit. You don’t actually give a shit! You give this impression of someone who wants to be badly perceived as this ‘relevant bold opinionated woke feminist who’s not afraid to address important matters’. Yet, you forget to focus on the legitimate importance of issues at hand with intellectual honesty. On social media, I have noticed you exaggerate about every…little…thing…there…is: A man looking at you at the gym is a mysoginist male gazer who’s eating away your power to exist, a mural with a different interpretation must be taken down because there could be no other perspective except from the supposed artist’s point of you, so your warrior-ass must protect it at all cost because *all white men*. Some random-ass culturally unaware white guy wears a straw hat on Halloween and he is a racist whose appropriating culture and giving dead former KKK members something to rejoice about in their graves. And then there’re your opinions about microagresaions that even as a black woman who is all too familiar with what it’s like – can’t fathom how you live everyday with this constant burden or almost wishful thinking to be victimized just so you can scream about it on social media and gain solidarity points. And so forth! Yes yes yes, that is the shit you write about: Reactionary, moral panicky, exaggerating, black&white, taken out of context, 0-100%, provocative, misguided with tremendous moral self-confidence, and an illusion of superiority on top!

    It’s low! Get a blog! Or go take classes and pleaseee get better! TCB, this isn’t journalism! This is clickbait uninformed reactionary garbage! The writing in this article does not even follow!

  14. Thing is, even if Kobe had shown more remorse, yall would still disregard any part of his legacy, no matter how redeeming the rest of his life was up until his death. Another example of fake activism. You have a president that is still alive, and we cant even get people to realize the gravity of his lies…he has assaulted, raped, groped, bullied, and harassed for the better part of 4 decades without persecution…and an adulterer to boot. Not to mention, the rape and pillage of the entire North and South American continent by Europeans without proper historical reference and apology for more than 400 years. This is exacerbated by the fact that Kobe is black. White outrage over a black man raping one of there “own” Get a clue fake activists. Where is your outrage over President Trump the racist and rapist? Attack Kobe, he is dead..and not here to defend himself. Your “victim” is questionable at best, and proceeded to have sexual contact before and after the alleged incident…we will never know because she wouldnt testify….hmmmm so curious…but yet Brett Cavanaugh escaped as well with no repercussions….

    How fitting is it that you people will try to divert back to this incident that he has literally “paid” for and never convicted of pursuant to the law of the courts? So since he was accused should he have stopped his life? Did you ever stop to think that possibly Kobe had sex with this women and she expected to be paid for her services? Hence the multiple semen samples present on her body? Furthermore, in his final years, he was a model citizen, gave back to his community, mentored, donated time and money, advocated for womens sports, etc. His way of a subliminal apology for adultery to his wife. Some of you are guilty of transgressions but havent been caught….fake activists and purists….while ignoring some of the true victims of rape…because they dont fit your narrative. Sorry friends, the amount Kobe gave to the world will forever outweigh your attempt to destroy his name because of the Colorado accusation. Yes accusation.

    PS…Everyone obvioulsy deserves a second chance in this country except the black man….but dont worry, fake activists, you will have your 15 minutes of fame, but the “rapist” Bryant will live forever…enjoy your time!

  15. Again I’m reading these articles and nothing but, white/asian women writing bull. If you going to write about a serious subject like this why are you leaving shit out. And you wonder why you are losing professional contacts? I mean what can you expect Asian are just as guilty of racist propaganda against Black people as White People. Like when China had a commercial a black man being put into a washer machine to clean his skin and turn him Asian. Yea every one knows he “CHEATED” just like everyone knows the girl panties had white man pub hairs in them… but of course you don’t bring that up smh…

  16. Famous athletes have been getting away with unspeakable unmoral ax for many years I’ve personally have witnessed famous athletes picking up young girls in limos getting them drunk having sex with them and the next day acting like they didn’t know who they were. these young girls fall victim to their stardom. I’ve seen pictures of parties with all black football players and all young white girls most of the football players were married this goes on more times than people realize. As far as that girl he did rape her that girl needed stitches to repair the damage Kobe did to her there’s total evidence that he raped her and just because he was famous he gets away with it. If ihe was a normal non-athlete he would be in prison it’s a shame that famous people that have money get away with crimes every single day. I don’t care if he was a good basketball player that doesn’t give him the right to rape somebody and I can’t believe his wife would want to stay with him. She probably wouldn’t if he wasn’t famous. It’s a shame that athletes are not held to a higher standard since they are in the public life and set examples for others.

  17. The DNA and Physical trauma that was documented by the hospital meant Kobe was likely to serve several years at least for his crime. The trial would have been in Colorado so he wasn’t going to be set free a la OJ by a racist jury. Kobe got off because of power associated with wealth. His low life attorneys traumatized a women with significant mental health issues. She knew a trial would make this worse and settled for cash instead.
    Less wealthy individuals without the ability to severely inflict trauma by their unethical attorneys and broker a 7 figure buyout would have ended up in Prison. The one thing I’ll say is that Kobe was smart enough to change his ways and not become a repeat offender. Kobe was scum but he wasn’t without redeeming qualities beyond Basketball. I don’t mourn his loss even if I feel badly for the rest of the helicopter passengers that presumable weren’t rapist that died. I feel especially bad that Kobe’s money allowed these people to fly when common sense says you don’t fly in fog in a helicopter. Certainly not in one without an altimeter in hilly California.

  18. World is not fair. Celebrities and sports figures are treated as gods. Kobe will be remembered as a legend rather then a rapist. He busted an OJ Simpson but got away with it culturally.

  19. Thank you for the courage to post this. This man was a rapist, practically admitted it. His celebrity status and reverence on the basis of putting a ball into a net for tens of millions of $ is disgusting.

  20. Does anyone remember when the news broke? The accuser’s mother stated that she overhead her daughter telling her aunt what happened at the hotel. The mother said she told her daughter, “You were raped?” I was not in the room so it’s he said/she said.

  21. I have not seen anything that precludes the possibility this woman scammed Kobe to get money. Knew he was rich, had sex with him voluntarily, then accused him of rape to get a big civil damages award. The reporting on the Harvey Weinstein trial indicates women are coming out of the woodwork, years after they had some kind of encounter with Weinstein, to accuse him. Some of these women apparently made no accusations until his case hit the headlines, and it appears everyone one of them can reasonably hope to get $1M or more after Weinstein is convicted. (a couple dozen accusers, a fortune of $50M we are told)
    If this woman dropped charges and chose to be rich instead, blame her, instead of excusing her.
    In America, if you do not get convicted, you are not guilty, and in this case there was plenty of reason to believe he was not guilty, but the feminists now go with “credibly accused” which of course only means the accusation was credible to them.

  22. He’s a piece of shit. Thank you for writing this. Anyone with any education about these issues who reads about the case sees exactly what happened. This is not some “misunderstanding of consent” sexual assault, the fallout of which can be immeasurably harrowing in itself. He is a rapist, and in death, a rapist he remains.

  23. Read the case. Faber was caught in lies, had sex with another man immediately after Kobe, and had been hospitalized 3 times the prior year for self-inflicted injuries. Feminist scums don’t tell you this because they’d rather tarnish a successful black man with fake evidence. Kobe wasn’t a rapist, he was just stupid enough for fall for a deceitful blond girl who was seeking millions from a high-profile, handsome athlete.

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