WNBA legend Lisa Leslie said Kobe Bryant’s legacy is “not complicated” to her, despite a rape accusation made against him in 2003.
Leslie said the media “should be more respectful” about her longtime friend and not rehash the case in the wake of his deadly helicopter crash Jan. 26 in Calabasas, California.
“It’s like if you had questions about it, you had many years to ask him that,” Leslie said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.” “I don’t think it’s something that we should keep hanging over his legacy.”
Bryant was charged with sexual assault after a 19-year-old employee at Cordillera Lodge and Spa in Edwards, Colorado, accused him of raping her in his hotel room. The charges were dropped because she refused to testify in the criminal case.
He later reached a settlement with the woman for an undisclosed amount and issued an apology to the woman, saying, in part, that “although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not.”
But when asked whether the allegations impacted his legacy, Leslie replied, “It’s not complicated for me at all.”
“That’s just not the person that I know,” Leslie told the morning show.
She said she never saw Bryant, whom she had known since he was 18 years old, “being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way.”
“Even if there’s a few times that we’ve been at a club at the same time, Kobe’s not the kind of guy, never been, like, ‘Lis, go get that girl, or tell her, or send her this,’” Leslie said. “I have other NBA friends that are like that. Kobe, he was never like that.”
Bryant, 41, died along with eight others, including 13-year-old daughter Gianna, when the helicopter they were riding in crashed into a mountain.