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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ithaca chapter.

The following article contains mentions of sexual assault and may be triggering to some.

The sports community and the entire world were shaken to the core a few weeks ago when basketball star Kobe Bryant tragically passed away. He, his teenage daughter, Gianna, and seven others, were involved in a fatal helicopter crash, leaving people reeling from this sudden tragedy.

Of course, people are coping with this loss in different ways. Artists are painting murals to memorialize his legacy. His fellow NBA players are wearing jerseys with his number on them. But there is a group that strongly believes Bryant should not be mourned because of a sexual assault he was accused of almost a decade ago.

I would like to start this off by saying that I consider myself to be a feminist, and strongly believe that women who come forward about their sexual assault should be believed unless there is a definite reason not to. However, it notes saying that sometimes situations like this are not black and white, and in the heat of the moment, lines can be blurred. Ultimately, we will never know exactly what happened.

In early July of 2003, Kobe Bryant stayed at a hotel in Colorado in preparation for having a surgery nearby a few days later. A 19-year-old hotel employee lodged a complaint with the police a few days later, claiming that Bryant had raped her in his hotel room. Bryant at first denied the claims, then said they had sex consensually. He said that he assumed consent because of her body language during the encounter.

Charges were filed against Bryant in criminal court that were later dropped because his accuser was unwilling to testify. She later took him to civil court, where they settled the case for an undisclosed amount of money. Following this, Bryant released a statement publicly apologizing for the incident. It read, in part, “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. 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.”

Clearly this is a situation in which Bryant realized his wrongdoing, and profusely apologized for it. Over the years, he did his best to rebuild his reputation, advocating strongly for women in the sports world. He involved himself strongly in his community and gave back whatever he could.

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Kobe Bryant did his best to be a good person, and overall had a positive impact on the world. Saying this does not take away from the fact that he sexually assaulted someone. People are multifaceted, and this is no exception. He exists both as an icon and as a rapist.

When it comes to grief, mourning can be complicated, especially when looking at all the different sides that people have. It’s possible to deeply feel the loss of Bryant and to grieve strongly for a man that was a hero in many aspects. But it’s possible at the same time to realize that he was a flawed individual who didn’t always make the best decisions in his life. We are all allowed to mourn those who are not perfect individuals, simultaneously realizing their faults.

Bryant will be missed by many, and there is no mistaking the impact that he had on the world. We are all allowed to react in our own ways to his death, and to mourn the way that we need to mourn.

Reilly Shingler is a junior at Ithaca College majoring in politics with a minor in education studies. She is the treasurer of Ithaca's chapter of HerCampus and is also on the executive board for Ithaca's chapter of Planned Parenthood: Generation Action, a college level offshoot of Planned Parenthood that focuses on activism and reproductive justice on college campuses. She can usually be found watching TikToks/anything that contains Andy Samberg or Matthew Grey Gubler, playing ukulele, or reposting social justice infographics onto her Instagram story. Capricorn ☀ Aquarius ☾ Pisces ↑
Allaire is an inquisitive and confident lady who loves to watch reruns of her favorite shows (Bones anyone?) and enjoy the finer things in life like sand in between her toes, the sun on her skin and chocolate ice cream. Allaire is a senior Sociology major and Women and Gender Studies minor with aspirations to be a human rights lawyer and a songwriter. She is passionate about music, traveling and social justice.