Today we lost a sports legend with an incredibly complicated history. Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California at the age of 41. His 13 year old daughter Gianna was with him. The pilot and 2 other passengers who at the time of this article being written have not been identified also perished in the crash and ensuing fire.
When you look at Kobe Bryant you have to look at his career. He declared for the NBA draft out of high school and was taken in the first round by the Charlotte Hornets, who traded Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers for whom he played his entire NBA career. He started out as the youngest player in NBA history ended his career as the 3rd all-time in career points (in fact, he was just passed by LeBron James for that accolade Saturday night). Among his other accolades:
- 5 Time NBA Champion
- 2 Time NBA Finals MVP
- 2008 NBA MVP
- 2 Time Olympic Gold Medalist
- 18 Time NBA All-Star
- 11 Time All-NBA First Team
- 81 points in a single NBA game (2nd all-time)
Bryant was so superlative that he wore two numbers during his career with the Lakers and the team retired both of them. Kobe Bryant was an absolute, literal, cannot argue legend of the sport and his name will forever be amongst the all-time greats.
It is impossible, however, to talk about Kobe Bryant without also talking about the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him in Colorado in 2003. While the charges were eventually dropped when his accuser chose not to testify Bryant did admit guilt and settled a civil suit out of court for an undisclosed amount. He lost his previously sterling reputation as well as unknowns amounts of endorsement money. Because he was still a transcendent talent his transgressions were eventually forgotten, or at least soft-pedaled, and while it caused a great deal of strife in his marriage, with his wife going so far as to file for divorce, eventually they reconciled and his endorsements came back.
However, the young lady involved still lost her right to feel safe. She lost her body autonomy. It is impossible to know if she ever got that back.
The sports world lost a mercurial talent today. A man who was driven by his desire to prove to everyone that he was an all-time great. On the court he succeeded.