Kobe Bryant dead: Besides sporting legacy, basketball legend will be remembered for his off-court controversies

  • In 2003, Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort.

  • The basketball player claimed the two had consensual sex, and prosecutors later dropped the sexual assault charge at the request of the accuser.

  • In 2011, Bryant was fined $100,000 for a gay slur directed towards a referee.

Kobe Bryant may be gone but he leaves behind a massive basketball legacy.

The sporting legend died in an unfortunate helicopter crash in California on late Sunday night. The crash also accounted for the lives of eight more people including Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

 Kobe Bryant dead: Besides sporting legacy, basketball legend will be remembered for his off-court controversies

Kobe Bryant during the proceedings of sexual assault case in 2004. File image: AP

The horrific news sent shock waves across the globe with actors, politicians, sportspersons paying tribute to the former Los Angeles Lakers star.

Bryant, who played for Lakers throughout his 20-year career, was not only a star on the basketball court but was an athlete the transcended the sport. Neymar paying tribute to Bryant after scoring for PSG in France on Sunday was an example of the wide reach of the former American baller.

In his 20 years for Lakers, Bryant accumulated 33,643 career points and took his team to five NBA championship titles. He was the league MVP on one occasion (2008) and NBA Finals MVP on two. He made 18 All-Star Game appearances and made it to All-NBA First Team 11 times.

But all that glitters is not gold and Bryant as well, despite, all the successes on the court had a fair share of controversies off it. His life's legacy despite being massive is also complicated.

In 2003, Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort. The basketball player claimed the two had consensual sex, and prosecutors later dropped the sexual assault charge at the request of the accuser. The woman had later filed a civil suit against Bryant that was settled out of court.

"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," Bryant said in a statement released through his attorney to apologise to the women.

In 2011, he was fined $100,000 for a gay slur directed towards a referee.

"My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period," he said. "The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone," Bryant said in a statement apologising for his act.

The recounting of the sexual assault case against Bryant after his death led to mixed reactions on social media. While few saw it as a case of a celebrity escaping punishment due to his status, others were unhappy with the past being dragged back after the demise of an iconic basketball player.

The Washington Post also placed one of their reporters Felicia Sonmez on administrative leave after she tweeted a link to a story about rape allegations against Bryant, after his death. The decision was criticised by numerous journalists at the newspaper.

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Updated Date: Jan 28, 2020 14:54:02 IST