For the first time in almost a decade, NBA star Kobe Bryant is speaking out about the rape charges he faced in 2003. In an interview with In Depth host Graham Bensinger, the Los Angeles Laker said the experience challenged who he was as a person.
“To have to go through something like that not only individually but as a family; for the Lakers organization, my teammates. It was extremely difficult and you kind of have to do some soul searching because you’re fighting numerous battles at the same time,” he said. “The only thing that you can do is put one foot in front of the other, and just continue to move forward.”
Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in Eagle County, Colorado in 2003. Although Bryant pled not guilty to the charges, he admitted to cheating on Vanessa, his wife of two years. The accuser eventually dropped the charges, but the damage created a rough start to his marriage.
“There were times the days seemed endless, that this is never going to end, this feeling, this dark time is never going to be over,” he said.
The five-time NBA champion said he used basketball as a stress reliever. He also confided in his friend and and fellow NFL player Ray Lewis, who once faced murder charges. “Other players can’t relate to that sort of stuff, to that type of pressure,” said Bryant. “That’s real pressure.”
After ten years of marriage, Vanessa Bryant filed for divorce in December 2011. According to TMZ, the divorce has been put on hold and the couple is currently trying to repair their union.
Bryant said that the case “just really teaches you how to let go and how to trust and not try to control everything.”