Wondering about Kobe Bryant

Mamba and Mambacita Foundation

Kobe BryantGreg, one of the first bloggers I met online, nearly 15 years ago, and the father of two daughters (relevant here, I think) wondered:

I don’t know if I’ve asked you, but how do you reconcile Kobe Bryant’s rather skeevy sex life – and possible raping – with admiring his work with his daughters and girls’ sports in general? So many people seemed to give him a pass on the former when he died while lauding the latter, and I just can’t.

It really annoys me that he quite probably got away with rape because he’s rich, and it simply vanished from his biography except for some minor mentions. His wonderful work with girls’ sports always seemed like an attempt to buy redemption to me. It’s great and I’m glad he did it, but it seemed to work, too.

A reasonable question. First of all, I had to look at the Los Angeles Times article about the case. The piece came out shortly after he died, about a year ago.

“Yet one major off-the-court hit to Bryant’s reputation took place June 30, 2003, in a hotel room at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera in the Rocky Mountains town of Edwards, Colo. A 19-year-old woman working as the front-desk clerk accompanied Bryant on a tour of the property. She later went to Bryant’s hotel room, where she said he raped her.

Kobe Bryant, 24 at the time, was charged with one count of felony assault. It took 14 months for the criminal case to be resolved. The accuser decided she would not testify, and prosecutors dropped the case Sept. 1, 2004. A civil suit brought by the accuser in August 2004 was settled out of court on March 2, 2005, marking the end of an often-graphic legal saga that drew worldwide attention but never resulted in a trial.”

There’s a whole bunch of details about the accuser’s loss of resolve, and mistakes by the court system, including her name being released to the media.

“Bryant never spoke publicly about the case after the July 2003 news conference, although he did issue the following statement on the day the criminal case was dismissed.”

Apology

“’First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure.

“’I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colorado. I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman…

“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.”

So I felt that Kobe Bryant took at least some responsibility for his actions. More to your point, I think that the court case, and especially being the father of four daughters, changed him. One sees the inequality and difference of opportunity for girls compared with boys, though it is shrinking.

I’m not sure he wanted to “buy” redemption. In addition to his family foundation, he worked with Make-A-Wish Foundation, and also supported after-school programs, cancer research, efforts to help the homeless, and more . His participation was usually hands-on, not just writing a check.

Just Mercy

I’m also taken by something that lawyer Byran Stevenson wrote in his book  Just Mercy. He notes that “he often had conversations with clients who were struggling and despairing over their situations and the things they had done, or were done to them. These clients would question the value of their lives, and he would remind them that <em>they were more than the worst thing they had ever done.</em>  You can also hire a drug crime lawyers in Festus to fight your case.

“‘If you tell a lie, that does not mean you are just a liar. If you take something that is not yours, that does not mean you are just a thief. Even if you kill someone, you are not just a killer.

“‘Understanding this is helpful not just for those who may be questioning the value of their lives, it is also helpful for all of us. We have all judged someone as a result of something that person has done, but we should not define someone just based on that act.’

“Stevenson notes that we are all broken in one way or another, and understanding our brokenness creates not only a need and desire for mercy but also a corresponding need to show mercy.

“The power of just mercy is that it belongs to the undeserving; it’s when mercy is least expected that it is most potent.” Check out the movie.

I think we all deserve a shot at redemption.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Wondering about Kobe Bryant”

  1. Thank you Roger. I agree, we all fall short of the glory of God. Grace and redemption are so important for all of us!

  2. Thanks for responding, sir. I don’t mean to imply that Bryant was totally insincere with his efforts, because I’m sure he wasn’t. I think a part of him, though, was trying to buy some good press, which doesn’t make it totally insincere, either, as people are certainly complicated beings. I’m certainly glad he did take the time to do all these things and work with his own daughters and other girls, because no matter what the motivation, it was certainly a good thing in the world, so there’s that. I’m a big believer in actions over words, so I don’t necessarily care too much about his motivation, just that he did good.

    I don’t really think he took much responsibility for what happened, though. The mealy-mouthed apology wasn’t really one, and it’s clear he probably bought the victim out. Again, he might have apologized to his wife and become a better husband, but it doesn’t seem like he really understood what happened.

    I certainly don’t want people to be defined by their worst act, and I don’t mind if people didn’t lead with that when discussing Bryant’s death, but I did wonder why we didn’t hear more about it in the context of his work with kids, as it seems, at least partly, that he was exorcising some demons with it.

    Thanks again!

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