Skip to content

Kobe Bryant opens up about how rape charges changed him

Jul 16, 2012, 11:24 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant AP

It is the fork in the road for the public perception of Kobe Bryant.

Back in 2003 he was charged with sexual assault of a hotel employee in Eagle, Colorado (where he had been for knee surgery). Kobe admitted infidelity in his marriage but denied this was a sexual assault. Eventually the charges were dismissed (it never went to full trial).

Irrespective of the court result, this changed how many people thought of Kobe and colors his image to this day. He lost numerous endorsements. It changed how he and Nike marketed the Kobe brand — he stared in a “hate me but respect my game” series of ads with Nike and publicly embraced the driven side of his personality in a way he had not before. He was fine with being everyone’s villan (outside of Los Angeles, where he was always largely supported).

His popularity eventually came around as people did respect his game, and after a couple of titles without Shaquille O’Neal Kobe is now the biggest international star the NBA has. His fame transcends basketball. He is an icon of the sport, regardless of what people think of him.

The Colorado experience changed Kobe as a person, too.

Kobe doesn’t often speak of those times but he did in a fantastic interview on Yahoo with Graham Bensinger, part of the In Depth series. (We will have other parts of the interview later today, but go check it out.)

“The challenge is who you are as a person, not only individually but as a family….” Bryant said. “There’s times where it just seems like days are just endless, like this is never going to end. This feeling, this dark time is just never going to be over. Once you go through something like that, you can’t help but be different. You can’t help but have a better sense of who you are.”

What were the lessons?

“As a person it just really teaches you how to let go and how to trust and not try to control everything. And that decreases your stress level ten-fold,” Kobe said.

Through it all, Bryant kept playing, flying back to Los Angeles just before game time and performing well for the Lakers. There were calls in some quarters for Kobe to stop playing but he said he needed that escape.

“I’m not going to stop playing,” Kobe said. “I’m not just because you guys think I should stop playing, just because you guys think that I won’t perform as well. I’m going to show you. Truthfully, it was stress release for me.”

Kobe said he has spoken with Ray Lewis, the superstar NFL linebacker who faced murder charges (which were dismissed).

“Other players can’t relate to that sort of stuff, to that type of pressure,” Bryant said. “That’s real pressure. That’s life pressure. It’s not hitting the game winning shot. If you make it, you win. If you miss it – no. That’s not pressure.”

  1. TeamBalco - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    Everyone loves Kobe.

  2. limonadamas - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    this article is just fishing for trolls… haha

    • ron05342 - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      Yup…this comments section will soon be littered with “Kobe the rapist” diatribe from the Denver faithful.

  3. joshm5683 - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    I still don’t believe he raped that girl, I don’t think many people do besides people who just hate on Kobe for being Kobe. His wife was going to divorce him earlier this year for cheating on her, but all the people he cheated on her with were of latin heritage. I don’t think a somewhat thick white girl would really sway him. That being said, it is crazy how winning and time changes people’s perception. I remember in 2004-2006 he was still pretty hated on, even though he had some of his best seasons statistically during that time frame. Hope he did learn a lesson

  4. patfic15 - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    Kobe and Ray Lewis. What a fantastic pairing of douchebaggery.

  5. borderline1988 - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    I always did and still do think that Kobe’s game is a bit overrated..he’s a volume shooter with average efficiency. And his championship teams always had the best frontcourts and coach in the league.

    But he has grown into this sort of wise, transcedental basketball icon. His attitude towards the game is terrific and you have to love the fact that he’s so driven to succeed. It must be tremendous for young players to be around a guy like that.
    His interviews are great also.

    Basketball players are usually dumb (even the stars). But the real superstars always seem to be smarter than the rest. None of these guys speak English well (school was never much of a focus) but they seem to handle themselves well in interview scenarios and have insightful things to say.

    • savvybynature - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      I agree with you sans the “basketball players are usually dumb” remark. That comment is dumb, actually.

      But I do agree superstars are often smarter guys. There is a mental side to any game that is harder to quantify but is as important as the athletic attributes. It’s how a guy like Nash becomes a 2-time MVP: A lot of it is the ability to quickly process information and then react.

      Sure, it’s not advanced calculus-type of smarts, but it takes a level of intelligence nonetheless, and anticipation can make up for a lot in terms of speed and hops, etc.

    • mogogo1 - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:15 PM

      Funny comment in that I’m basically 180 degrees the other way on all points. I think it’s nearly impossible to overrate his game. He’s the best individual talent since Jordan without question. But transcendental? He’s intelligent, but I have no clue what he’s into other than basketball and his personality gives me no reason to care. His desire to WIN is amazing and unquestioned, but whether that equates to having a great attitude towards the GAME is debatable. The dude has never been a great teammate and seems to have few friends.

  6. drewsylvania - Jul 16, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    If he hadn’t done it, he’d have been less stressed. And anyone else find it funny that, in Ray Lewis, he went to someone else who ALSO did a crime that he got away with?

    • unodosochocinco - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:37 PM

      wow… what a narrow-minded comment.

    • ron05342 - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      You mean, you are acting as judge, jury, and executioner when you say they got away with crimes?

      Crimes they were never convicted of, nor were they even tried?

      You ever hear of “innocent until proven guilty?” Where the state couldn’t find even a shred of evidence of crime?

      Idiot.

      • ransomstoddard1 - Jul 16, 2012 at 4:11 PM

        Actually, the state had more than a few shreds of evidence but couldn’t get anyone to testify against Lewis. The rumor mill is just that, but there was lots of talk about witnesses being threatened, paid off, etc.

    • ihavecomplaints - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      So people who are falsely accused are relatively chill about the whole thing?

  7. Justin - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Only Kobe can cheat on his wife and allegedly rape a girl and be painted the victim in all of that.

    Just like his game on the court. Bynum and Gasol combine for 35 points but only get 18 combined shots. Kobe drops 40 on 35 shots and the reason they lose is because he “doesn’t get enough help.” Give me a break.

  8. lakerluver - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    @borderline, Kobe Bryant is regarded by most people associated with the NBA as one of the all time greatest players the league has ever seen. If you think his game is overrated you simply don’t know basketball. Or you’re biased against him. However, everyone is entitled to their opinion, regardless to how ignorant it is. As for those who honestly believe he raped that chick, I ask do you really think the criminal justice system would allow a man of color to get away with raping a young Caucasian woman? Regardless of how much money Kobe had, if there was evidence of a crime he would’ve been locked up. Just like Mike Tyson. And Tyson “allegedly” raped a Black woman. Kobe raped no one.

  9. loungefly74 - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    well…good for Kobe to speak up about deep personal issues. i’m glad he has moved forward from this and is happy with his life. i never did speak ill of his colorado situation as it was a personal subject and only for him and his family to deal with. i was the same way with bill clinton and whoever else was in that situation. none of my business. let he with no sin cast the first stone. well…that disqualifies me.

    • shockexchange - Jul 16, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      Well said Lounge.

  10. hojo20 - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    HUGE mistake by Kobe getting married so young.

    • wellireckon - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:51 PM

      ..And without a prenup, like his father allegedly advised him. Oh well, his money and life; not ours.

    • clickablecontent - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      HUGE success for he and Venessa to devote themselves to fixing things after more mistakes.

      • berbes - Jul 16, 2012 at 4:01 PM

        especially bribing her forgiveness with a multi-carat diamond ring. it shows he didn’t rape that girl, right?

    • abasketballthing - Jul 16, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      Really? I don’t see why. If he hadn’t cheated, he would’ve been just fine.

      • mogogo1 - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:00 PM

        I’m finding it extremely odd that when he was asked about lessons learned that “I shouldn’t have cheated on the woman I’m still married to” wasn’t somehow part of the answer.

  11. swingondeesenuts - Jul 16, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    I see my intital comment was deleted…OK I’ll try to be more PC this time. Did any of you Kobe defenders even read the police reports? The woman that who worked at the hotel was basically a groupie and agreed to “regular” sex with Kobe but he then allegedly forced her into anal sex. There was blood all over the room and his clothes. Again, this is from the police report. He paid her a seven figure settlement to drop the criminal case and sign a nondisclosure agreement. Do these sound like the actions of an innocent man?

    These are ALL FACTS DIRECT FROM THE POLICE REPORTS AND COURT RECORDS. Hopefully the site won’t decide to once again censor the TRUTH.

    The truth will set you free….

    • urodaddy07 - Jul 24, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      how do allegations miraculously transform into facts?

  12. detroitcityryda - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Yea because he had to join a secret organization in order to walk away free that’s how they set up actors and athletes on bogus chargers then promise them freedom,and unlimited fame $$ in return to be become on of them ,that’s why hes Nike commercials are full of rituals ,same goes for Lebron watch his pre game ritual you will see .

    • pellypell - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      True, Lebron and the baby powder up in the air = straight up Illumanti!!

      I didn’t even realize it until you said it. Clown.

      • bballing4life - Jul 16, 2012 at 2:01 PM

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXONAk6QUno He meant this. You should get informed before saying something. You’re the clown here.

  13. BigBeachBall - Jul 16, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Nash is a huge family man, grant hill also….this interview was a diplomatic move.
    “Hey Steve, that old Kobe is in the past.”

  14. lakerluver - Jul 16, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    What rape?

  15. pooflingingmonkey - Jul 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    ““As a person it just really teaches you how to let go and how to trust and not try to control everything. And that decreases your stress level ten-fold,” Kobe said.

    If only he’d “let go” and tried not to “control everything” he wouldn’t have been in this mess.

    • mogogo1 - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:04 PM

      I’m not even sure how that quote answers the whole “lessons learned” question. I’m sure this taught his wife a thing or two about trust, but Kobe is talking about himself. Is he saying that prior to this it had never occurred to him that a hotel worker he hadn’t met prior to check-in might not be 100% trustworthy and stable?

  16. ebrownwareagle - Jul 16, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Boderline 1998 Jul 16, 2012, 11:48 AM EDT
    I always did and still do think that Kobe’s game is a bit overrated..he’s a volume shooter with average efficiency. And his championship teams always had the best frontcourts and coach in the league.

    But he has grown into this sort of wise, transcedental basketball icon. His attitude towards the game is terrific and you have to love the fact that he’s so driven to succeed. It must be tremendous for young players to be around a guy like that.
    His interviews are great also.

    Basketball players are usually dumb (even the stars). But the real superstars always seem to be smarter than the rest. None of these guys speak English well (school was never much of a focus) but they seem to handle themselves well in interview scenarios and have insightful things to say.

    You really Are a jack@$$! Overrated and dumb is probably what your folks are thinking right now about giving Birth!

  17. philliephaninva - Jul 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    Kobe is such a prima donna. I still think he raped that girl and got away with it.

  18. scalfor3 - Jul 16, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    “The first thing Michael Phelps should have done when that photo came out was call Kobe Bryant’s publicist. Cuz Kobe was accused of rape, and all he had to do was settle in court for millions of dollars, change his jersey number and win a championship and that soulless town in LA couldn’t be prouder. I just hope that when parents let their kids run around in #24 jerseys, they have the decency to say: ‘well come on, number 8 was the rapist.”- daniel tosh

  19. whojodaddy - Jul 16, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    This would be more interesting if you had said… You’d think rape charges would’ve changed Kobe Bryant, but not until last year when he got busted for cheating with the threat of losing his wife once and for all, did he finally see the light (we all know he’s still gonna keep cheating at they’ll eventually be done, but you have to put a positive spin on this. lol).

  20. bigjjstudd - Jul 16, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    This Sodomite will be judged for his sins. Justice is lacking in America, but in Hell, he will be smited.

  21. berbes - Jul 16, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    YOU write about Kobe’s attempted rape, then dump my factual post about buying his wife a huge diamond ring as part of the marriage fixup. You might as well have helped him hold her down in that hotel room. you truly are a POS kurty…now get rid of this post before anyone sees it.

  22. matthewcarlson1 - Jul 16, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    LeBron is probably a bigger international name than Kobe.. just sayin.

    • ihavecomplaints - Jul 17, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      Kobe has #1 selling jersey worldwide.

      • avermaver - Jul 17, 2012 at 7:12 PM

        only losers buy player jerseys, find a new way to judge popularity

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Handing out NBA's postseason awards
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Wade (4400)
  2. D. Williams (4329)
  3. K. Love (4308)
  4. L. James (4026)
  5. S. Curry (3858)
  1. G. Dragic (3765)
  2. C. Anthony (3674)
  3. R. Rondo (3517)
  4. D. Howard (3387)
  5. R. Westbrook (3349)