On Sunday morning, basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California. Kobe and Gianna were heading to Mamba Academy for basketball practice when the copter went down. 7 other people died in the crash.
However, some people brought up Bryant’s 2003 rape scandal, including Westworld actress and activist Evan Rachel Wood, who faced serious backlash on Twitter after a series of tweets mentioning Bryant’s complicated past.
Following the news of Bryant’s death, the Frozen 2 actress tweeted out:
“What has happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family. He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist. And all of these truths can exist simultaneously.”
She followed that controversial tweet (which she deleted) with another, saying:
“Beloveds, this was not a condemnation or a celebration. It was a reminder that everyone will have different feelings and there is room for us all to grieve together instead of fighting. Everyone has lost. Everyone will be triggered, so please show kindness and respect to all.”
The incident that Wood is referring to was when Bryant was accused of raping a hotel employee in Eagle, Colorado, back in 2003. Bryant was charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment but the case never went to trial. Bryant claimed that he merely committed adultery with the 19-year-old and that he believed that the allegedly violent interaction was consensual. After she had been dragged through the mud and accused of gold digging, she decided not to testify in a criminal case.
She filed a civil suit and they settled with an undisclosed amount in 2005. Bryant released an apology after the incident.
“First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colo. I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman. She has agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case. 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. I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado.”
Bryant’s legacy is complicated, but many on Twitter believed that Wood lacked tact in her response and that she swept away the impact that Bryant had on black communities and that she was focusing on “white feminism.”
“We didnt need a “reminder”. You used the death of a man & his daughter to get clout from the #metoo movement. You used allegations, not an actual conviction to disrespect a black icon on the day of his death. This is why your brand of feminism makes us all look like a joke”
“Evan, I love you so damn much and that is the reason why I have to say: there are some things that don’t apply to all groups the same way. In some cases it’s simpler to remain silent, especially when it comes to groups we don’t belong in.”
The backlash got so intense that Wood ended up putting her Twitter account on private. This is definitely a complex issue and it’s important to consider survivors of sexual assault, but perhaps right after the death of a man and his daughter is not the time rehash the painful past.
We didnt need a "reminder". You used the death of a man & his daughter to get clout from the #metoo movement. You used allegations, not an actual conviction to disrespect a black icon on the day of his death. This is why your brand of feminism makes us all look like a joke
— Maria P Musoga (@mariapaalbergm) January 27, 2020