For Survivors of Sexual Assault, Kobe Bryant’s Legacy Is Complicated

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Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa attend a news conference at Staples Center on July 18, 2003 in Los Angeles. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa attend a news conference at Staples Center on July 18, 2003 in Los Angeles. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Getty Images)

When Shirley Alvarado del Aguila got to work on Jan. 27, she told colleagues she didn’t want to talk about Kobe Bryant, who had died the day before in a fiery helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

She was frustrated that the basketball star was being lionized by a public that seemed to forget he’d been arrested and accused of rape in 2003. She works for an organization that serves rape and domestic violence survivors, and she was angry that people who brought the subject up were being attacked online. So she deactivated her social media accounts.

She also worried about the woman who said Bryant had assaulted her nearly 17 years earlier — what she was thinking, how she was holding up.

The NBA star denied the rape allegation, saying the sex had been consensual — although he understood the woman felt differently. Felony charges were filed, only to be dropped after the woman declined to testify. Through the years, and in the wake of his death, his ardent fans have chosen to focus on his achievements on and off the court.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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