Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles at the age of 41. The crash killed all nine people on board, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and beloved college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa. Officials say the cause of the crash is being investigated but could take months to determine.
Bryant won five NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals and was crowned an All-Star 18 times. He played for the L.A. Lakers for 20 years before retiring in 2016. He was also known for being an ardent supporter of women’s basketball. Gianna Bryant reportedly hoped to one day play for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team.
Tributes continue to pour in on social media from fans, athletes and other public figures. Musicians Alicia Keys, Lizzo, Run-DMC and others remembered Bryant at the Grammys in Los Angeles Sunday night, and thousands gathered outside the Staples Center overnight to mourn his passing. But some are also calling on the media and supporters not to forget a sexual assault allegation from early in his career. In 2003, a 19-year-old woman who worked at a hotel where Bryant was staying accused him of rape. Bryant denied the charge, saying they had a consensual sexual encounter. The case was dropped after the woman decided not to testify and a civil suit was settled out of court. Many have called out his accuser’s treatment by the media and Bryant’s defense team. The sexual assault allegation resurfaced in 2018 when his film “Dear Basketball” won an Oscar for Best Animated Short at the 2018 Academy Awards. We’ll have more on Kobe Bryant later in the broadcast with author and sports journalist Dave Zirin.