Skip to Content


Dealing With The Death Of An Offender

On January 26th, 2020, nine people – including basketball star Kobe Bryant, and his daughter Gianna – died in a horrific helicopter crash.

While most of the world is mourning the loss of a basketball star and legend, others are struggling to navigate the complexities of Bryant’s legacy. Doting father (#girldad), loving husband, racial equity activist, women’s sports enthusiast, legendary basketball player, and rapist are all included in the late Bryant’s history. The nuances of these titles have caused much dissension, division, and discussion surrounding the late Kobe Bryant and the legacy he left behind.

Communities have been torn between acknowledging his past as an offender or keeping it buried as to not refute Kobe’s accomplishments in the sports and film world.

A 19-year-old hotel concierge reported Bryant of raping her in 2003. Highly publicized trials tend to take a toll on survivors. Despite the evidence of rape, the case was dropped. The 19-year-old had her identity, past sexual history, and health records publicized and ridiculed in the media. She encountered harassment and threats, as well as victim blaming from the judicial system.

A civil case was filed and the settled out of court, which led to a public apology from Bryant that sidestepped the actions and harm he’d done. While Kobe’s life went on without a glitch, much is left to wonder about the consequences of this case for the survivor.

Although the incident happened almost twenty years ago, there is no statute of limitations on questions about how it was handled and the circumstances around it. We still need to examine how we hold space for survivors who have been silenced for years, without justice or even validation of the truth of being harmed by a societal hero.

Can we take a moment to reflect and acknowledge that heroes are capable of harm, too? Can we understand that heroes hold the capacity to be villains in someone else’s story? Is there space to see a person for being more than what their friends, families, fans, and media say?

For those who struggle with the loss of a legend and offender, it’s okay to feel anger and sadness. We can acknowledge the hurt a tragic loss can cause while also deeply feeling anger about the lack of supports for survivors who come forward. There was no accountability for this offender’s actions and there are systems put in place that protect men with money, power, and fame. We grieve this and hold anger in our hearts over it. We also hold space for survivors who never have, or maybe never will receive justice because the death of their offender has overshadowed their own truths.

We have to continue validating the stories of survivors, debunking myths, and having these sensitive conversations about sexual violence prevention in our communities.

To survivors, we see you, we hear you, we believe you.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual violence, our trained advocates are available to talk 24 hours a day toll-free at 1-855-VOICES-4 (1-855-864-2374).

Other Ways to Reach Our Hotline:
Chat is a way for survivors to receive services via the MCEDSV website. This is web-based, survivors are encouraged to clear their web browser after each contact.

Text: 866-238-1454 is for individuals who prefer the convenience of texting. The text line offers the same confidential and anonymous service as the chat and hotline, with the added convenience of you sending messages discreetly via your mobile device. Survivors are encouraged to delete messages after each text session has ended. *Standard text messaging rates apply