It has been five days since basketball star Kobe Bryant perished in a helicopter crash.
Also onboard the ill-fated flight was Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others, who all died.
Bryant, who retired from the NBA in 2016, was as a legendary a figure on the court as he has been remarkable off it.
He won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star and was named to the All-NBA Team 15-times. Bryant was also a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, was named MVP in 2008 and was also NBA Finals MVP on two occasions.
He ranks fourth on the league’s all-time regular-season list.
His partnership with Shaquille O’Neal will go down as one of the best-ever duos in the NBA.
Despite his numerous accolades, his commitment, work ethic, words of advice and actions on and off the court transcended basketball.
After a game, he could speak fluent Italian or Spanish. After a career, he could win an Oscar for his animated short film, Dear Basketball.
Bryant’s death serves as a reminder of how fragile life can be and that death is never far away; not even for the rich and famous.
Having played in the NBA season for 20 years, Bryant would have taken thousands of flights to and from the Staples Centre, where he spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant regularly used the same helicopter on which he took his final ride to home basketball games.
For him, boarding that aircraft was the equivalent of most people getting into their cars to go to work.
It seems almost unfair that this would be the way in which the ‘Black Mamba’, as he was affectionately known, lost his life.
And now, since his sudden death, details of Bryant’s past, which had been made public and highlighted, have sprung back up, sparking robust debate.
Back in 2003, Kobe was charged with raping a 19-year-old hotel clerk.
Criminal charges were brought and then dropped against Bryant after the accuser refused to testify.
A civil suit was later settled out of court.
Bryant denied raping the teenager, he admitted to having consensual sex with her and subsequently issued a public apology.
Some persons, including feminists, have used Bryant’s death as an opportunity to remind the world of what they consider to be an ‘unforgivable’ incident.
One reporter from the Washington Post was even suspended after she tweeted about Bryant’s sexual allegations hours after his death.
The reporter was eventually reinstated after 300 of her colleagues signed a petition supporting her.
In giving reasons for why the punishment was handed down, managing editor Tracy Grant described the posts as “ill-timed”. She also suggested that the reporter showed “a real lack of judgment” and that she was “hurting this institution by doing this”.
Questions, therefore, need to be asked and answered.
Was there anything wrong with highlighting Bryant’s mistakes?
Were only Bryant’s historic achievements and the indelible mark which he left on the world to be discussed?
Was he ever forgiven for his actions 16 years ago?
Many believe that because of his status as a superstar, Bryant was open to criticism, even in death.
While it is usually a tradition for people who have died to be spoken of highly, Bryant’s rape case was not a secret. It was public knowledge.
Because of that, those who make the decision to allude to it, even in his death, cannot be faulted.
It is true that no one is perfect, but in the same breath it cannot be expected that a deceased person’s good deeds be highlighted but their ‘shameful’ ones be forgotten.
The world lost a gem with Kobe Bryant’s passing. He gave much and left behind a blueprint for success.
But he was not perfect and despite his many great achievements, the one ‘blotch’ against his character will forever be remembered and spoken of.