On January 26th, Kobe and Gigi Bryant and 7 other individuals passed away. The weather was unfavorable for flight, but they received special clearance. As the helicopter quickly rose towards the cloud line, it apparently hit the side of the mountain with great force and plummeted to its harsh fate. In his wake, he left momentous change.
Kobe Bryant was an exceedingly accomplished athlete. The driven and extremely confident high school superstar was drafted at a measly 17 years of age. This feat was merely the beginning of his successful career in the league. Bryant went on to attain five championship titles, shatter an excessive amount of records, and achieve the all-star title 18 times. And in 2016 his N.B.A. career came to an emotional, yet satisfied ending.
After Bryant’s success-filled career, his fans couldn’t ask much more from him. But, just like his career, he never failed to surprise. His contributions to society off the court heavily outnumbered any stats on the court.
In 2007, Vanessa and Kobe Bryant launched the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which states that they are, “a public charity dedicated to improving the lives of youth and families in need.”
In 2008 Bryant was a spokesperson for Aid Still Required, which is a foundation that focuses on bringing aid to communities who are “left behind after natural disasters and human crises.”
Bryant was also a spokesman for After-School All-Star program. Their mission statement states, “After-School All-Stars provides programs, transformative experiences, and mentoring that support students in developing skills and habits needed to succeed in life, school, and their future careers.”
In 2016, The Sports Academy, was rebranded as, The Mamba Academy. The sports available range from basketball and soccer, to volleyball and wrestling. The goal of The Mamba Academy is to instill “Mamba Mentality” within young athletes. Bryant says, “Mamba Mentality isn’t about seeking a result. It’s about the journey and the approach. It’s a way of life” And this statement is exactly the mantra that he carried throughout his life
The Mamba Mentality is also what Bryant instills within his soccer academy, Mamba F.C. Skills Academy, whose mission statement states, “We teach our young athletes how to become leaders and independent thinkers, while working together as a group to achieve a common goal through health and fitness.”
The Bryant family was also responsible for the donation of $1 million to erecting the National Museum of African American History.
From these instances it is clear that Bryant’s contribution to society has changed an innumerable amount of lives.
Because of the good will off the court and the countless records on the court, the news of his death hit the headlines swiftly. Most people, like me, couldn’t, or perhaps didn’t want to, believe it. His death not only shocked basketball fans and not only the Americans, but the entire world. He made a name for himself in and outside the game of basketball.
On my Instagram feed I saw two, then three, four, and then a second later, my entire feed was essentially a tribute to Kobe Bryant. Most of the pictures were honoring and in remembrance of Bryant. But as the amount of Bryant-related posts dwindled down, I began to see more posts bringing up his rape charges of 2003.
For anyone unaware, in July 2003 Bryant was charged with the sexual assault of a 19-year-old. The woman had in, the moment, clearly stated that she did not consent. Bryant had apparently “left a bruise on her neck and drew blood from her skin,” according to an article from the Time Magazine. The case was completed in court, but through a civil lawsuit for a settlement. Later, after his team of attorneys, “badly intimidated the victim and smeared her reputation” and he was off the hook for criminal punishment, Bryant issued an apology. He stated, “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.”
This was what people were bringing up on Instagram. I understand people’s frustration. The evidence points towards Bryant definitely raping this woman, and I acknowledge and am saddened for who those whom he negatively impacted, but unfortunately, we’ll never know the truth.
Looking at his contributions back to the community and then at the allegations of rape is odd. For all we know he could’ve gone overboard with good will in an attempt to reconcile with his mistake. Or maybe he could’ve merely just made a mistake. Whatever the case may be, I believe that the mistakes of a philanthropic man should never be forgotten. Just as well, they should never cloud all good will he has brought his way.Embed from Getty Images
Whatever the legacy of Kobe Bryant means to you, don’t forget to realize that mistakes don’t define a person, it’s what you do in reconciliation that defines them.