For some, nothing seems to wipe their slate clean like death.
There is quite the verbal war waging right now because of a clip of an interview between Gayle King (Oprah’s, well…) and WNBA star Lisa Leslie where King asked about Kobe Bryant’s 2003 rape charge. According to King, the interview between the two covered a range of topics about Bryant and it was quite unfortunate that this clip was the one that was highlighted. Okay, people, let’s address this…
Exactly what are you upset about? Are you mad he is dead and she asked about his rape charge? Are you mad he is dead and still mad he was charged with rape? Are you mad he is dead and it is just too soon and too tasteless to ask/speak of his rape charge? Are you mad he is dead and you think his death exonerates him from this part of his legacy? Or, perhaps, are you just mad he is dead?
Listen. The way Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan and Sarah and Payton Chester died certainly shocks ones sensibilities. IF they were aware of what was happening (prayerfully the fog obscured their views of how close they were to the mountain), it must have been incredibly horrifying. I shudder with the thought Truly. And, as a mother, my heart aches for the babies who were on the helicopter. I cannot help but to think the “luckiest” ones on board were the Altobellis… because unlike Vanessa Bryant and the father of Payton Chester, they are not left to attempt to figure life out after the loss of a child.
But, see, that’s the thing exactly. Death leaves the living having to figure life out afterward and for many, figuring it out can get complicated. And messy. Death, especially sudden and shocking death, oftentimes inspires the living to offer up a state of absolution for all prior misdeed or wrongdoings, because, well, debilitating grief is enough to deal with, adding unresolved anger will just be too much. I understand. I do. But what I also understand, is that not everyone feels the same. For many, death does not wipe the slate clean and in fact, may even imprint the misdeed that much deeper.
Nine people died on that helicopter. Without any doubt that is tragic. Four families and countless lives have been forever changed because of it. Do you care about the life of the (alleged) rape victim? Because without a doubt, her life also changed when he died. And I would dare say, whether he did rape her or not. But even if we leave her side of things out of this perspective and simply focus on his, how dare yall insist on everything but this part of his legacy be told? To deny the existence of this elephant in the room is to expose your uncertainty as to the man you all say he has become since 2004. You cannot call him “hero” and yet want to bury the skeletons in his closet. That is not what a hero is. A hero is someone who has achieved, someone who has overcome life’s mistakes and their own to become someone who can, in some eyes, exemplify characteristics that can be held up to scrutiny… and pass.
Bryant has left quite the legacy. He was undoubtedly an incredible sportsman, a philanthropist and seemingly a loving father. It has been reported he has not always been a faithful, respectful and loving husband, but perhaps, he eventually did get that right enough for his wife. Who knows? And quite frankly, who cares? The truth is that too is part of his legacy. It should not be left out. His death does not sanitize any of what he did while living. So, if we are to remember all his accomplishments and bestow unlimited accolades, we owe it to the truth to also remember and acknowledge his foibles.
I distinctly remember the very first blog post I did… I thanked my abuser. Yes. Here’s why. If I am to be grateful – and I am – for where I am in this moment in my life, to be proud of myself and am able to acknowledge this is the best moments in my life and be beyond ecstatic I am here for it, I must also acknowledge the part he played in it. I must thank him. Not for hurting, humiliating or terrorizing me. Never that. But for happening to me. You see, it is simply this… without that experience I would have been a very different version of myself today and, I am quite tickled by and grateful for this one So, my story must include that experience. Not to glorify him, but simply to acknowledge the footsteps in getting here.
People, it is okay to allow Bryant’s missteps into the narrative. Perhaps without it he would not have become the version of the man you so claim to admire. Love.