- Born in 1978 in Philadelphia, he was drafted into the NBA right out of high school. Bryant was the first and youngest guard ever to be drafted into the NBA. Some speculated that he might be “the next Michael Jordan.” Whether that happened is debatable, but what’s not debatable is that Bryant is one of the NBA most successful players.
- In 2003, Bryant was accused of raping a young woman in his hotel room while in Colorado for knee surgery. Bryant admitted immediately that he had had sex with the woman. But, he was adamant that he did not rape the woman.
- The charges caused sponsors to drop Bryant, sales of his jersey plummeted, and his general reputation was badly damaged.
- Bryant issued a public apology to the woman, her family, his family, and the people of the Colorado town where the incident had occurred.
- In 2004, a judge dismissed the criminal rape charges. However, the woman filed a civil lawsuit against Kobe, which was settled out of court.
- Bryant and his wife remained together for a few years following the accusations and even had a second child. But, in 2011, his wife filed for divorce.
Why is this post great in light of today’s celebration of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph?
Some facts many people don’t know about Bryant:
- He was raised in a Roman Catholic family.
- At the age of 6, Bryant’s family moved to a small town 1 hour outside of Rome, Italy. He is fluent in Italian to this day.
- In 2001, at 23 years of age, Bryant married 19-year-old Vanessa Laine, who also is Catholic. The wedding was celebrated at St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in Dana Point, California. In 2003, their first child was born.
- Ashamed at being discovered an infidel, Bryant knew he had committed adultery against his wife. She had every right to hate him and seek legal recourse.
End of story? No…
Now for page 2 of the story: The February 2015 issue of GQ published an interview with Bryant. In that article, he discussed how his Catholic faith helped him navigate his way through the darkness of the ordeal he caused by his infidelity:
The [loss of the] endorsements were really the least of my concerns. Was I afraid of going to jail? Yes. It was twenty-five to life, man. I was terrified. The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest.
It was actually kind of funny: He looks at me and says, ‘Did you do it?’ And I say, ‘Of course not.’ Then he asks, ’Do you have a good lawyer?’ And I’m like, ‘Uh, yeah, he’s phenomenal.’ So then he just said, ‘Let it go. Move on. God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.’ And that was the turning point.
Now for page 3: In 2013, Bryant and his wife announced they had reconciled and called off the divorce.
On this day when Catholics recall the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, it’s important to recall that the ideal of being a holy family isn’t an abstraction but a concrete reality. It’s not built of angels but sinners whose love of God and one other doesn’t allow the death caused by sin to deter them from seeking the resurrected life that flows from forgiveness.
So many people have been raised Catholic, got married to a Catholic in the Catholic Church and are trying mightily to remain faithful to their vows as well as raise their children Catholic. It’s a tough environment these days to be successful in both. Sin and the lack of forgiveness only increases the darkness that all too often ends in the death of marriages and families.
And now you know the other side of this story: Bryant and his wife are Catholic evangelists who, through the example of the lives, are teaching other spouses and parents who find themselves surrounded by darkness and on the brink of despair to perceive the light in the darkness, to be attentive to it, to learn from it, and to rise to new life in Christ as spouses and parents, as God wills.
Let the discussion begin...
To access the sources cited in this post, click on the following links: