The Legacy of Kobe Bryant

Students reflect on dealing with the death of legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant while remembering the sexual assault allegation


via Tyson Beck

Official artwork to announce Bryant’s retirement.

On January 26th, NBA legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a tragic helicopter accident along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others. Due to his incredible skill and work ethic, many revered Bryant as a hero and an inspiration. This being said, Bryant did not always have a positive light shed upon him. 

In 2003, Bryant was arrested in Colorado in connection to a sexual assault case of a 19-year-old hotel employee. The woman accused Bryant of raping her, but the case was dropped after the victim refused to testify in court. The woman then filed a civil suit against Bryant and was settled out of court. 

Situations like these make legacy a complicated thing. How should the allegations against Bryant affect how we remember him? This is the question I posed to some members of the Poly student body. 

Junior Makieda McKenzie said, “It shouldn’t be ignored but it shouldn’t dominate his legacy as a player and person. If you ignore his actions, it lessens them and makes the victim feel forgotten.”  

While many students believe that Bryant’s past should impact his legacy, others disagreed.

Senior Jason Moore said, “Although it would be unwise to forget the allegations made against him in 2003, I feel it is more important to focus on his growth as a man pursuing a multitude of endeavors and his contribution to sports as a whole.” 

Freshman Cooper Flinn-Beane said, “I believe the number of good things he does, how he has affected people positively, his apology, and the court settlement make up for at least part of his mistake but not necessarily 100% of it.” 

Finally, junior Olivia Gryson said, “I think since the wound is so fresh with his death, people tend to remember him in good ways, and especially since his daughter died too. But as that wound heals, it will be easier to criticize him and hold him accountable for the things he has done, specifically the sexual assault.” 

Complicated legacies are becoming more prevalent in our society. With people gaining the courage to speak out because of things like the #MeToo movement, more details come out that can humanize those we idolize. This raises the question: How should we evaluate legacies? Should we ignore the flaws of those we worship? Or can we look up to people while also taking into account their misdeeds?