We must remember both the good and bad of Kobe Bryant, writes Susie O’Brien. Picture: Getty
We must remember both the good and bad of Kobe Bryant, writes Susie O’Brien. Picture: Getty

We must remember both good and bad of Kobe

Sometimes an outpouring of public grief obscures uncomfortable facts about people's lives.

Kobe Bryant deserves to be honoured and mourned, but we need to remember the whole man: the good and the bad.

We need to remember that he was a five-time NBA champion, LA Lakers leading scorer of all time and two-time Olympic gold medallist.

He was also a devoted father of four daughters. He wrote an Oscar-winning short film. He supported women's sports.

But we shouldn't forget the rape case he was at the centre of in 2003.

He allegedly asked a 19-year-old woman back to his hotel room, grabbed her by the neck to stop her from leaving and then raped her.

 

Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the other victims of the helicopter crash are honoured prior to the Super Bowl. Picture: Getty
Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the other victims of the helicopter crash are honoured prior to the Super Bowl. Picture: Getty

She reported it to police the next day and had a medical examination. Physical evidence documented by doctors supported her story.

At first Bryant denied he'd had sex with the woman then admitted they'd had a sexual encounter but it was consensual.

His accuser was widely smeared in the media.

Her mental health and sexual history were questioned by Bryant's lawyers.

Under enormous duress, she dropped the criminal charges against him.

Her civil suit was settled privately.

Bryant eventually said he understood that "she feels that she did not consent to this encounter".

 

Laker fans honour Kobe Bryant before a game last week. Picture: Getty
Laker fans honour Kobe Bryant before a game last week. Picture: Getty

 

It was decades before #metoo and everyone wanted to forget this inconvenient episode.

It didn't fit Bryant's superhuman image and family man status.

I'll bet his wife, who fronted the media in the aftermath of the court case, took longer to forget.

It seems some people aren't ready to remember even now, with some people who have raised these issues being given death threats.

But there is no right time and no wrong time to talk about it.

More important is that in our bid to deify this man, we don't erase his real history.

The incident doesn't change the good things Bryant did in his life, or remove his love for his family, or dim his on-court achievements.

We should mourn for Bryant and his daughter Gianna and the seven other people who died in the accident.

They do deserve it.

However, we should also spare a thought for someone else's daughter whose life changed forever in a Colorado hotel room in 2003.

@susieob

susan.obrien@news.com.au