Athletes have always been perceived as larger than life. From Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant, these superstar players have been role models to not just young fans, but to other aspiring athletes.
Bryant, who is arguably the best player in the league, and the prototypical poster boy for the NBA, is in the public eye for his off-the-court actions. Sometime next year, Bryant will go to trial for the alleged rape of a 19-year-old hotel employee from Denver.
Regardless of whether he is guilty or innocent, Bryant√ØøΩs life, career, and name will forever be changed and the role model who was once held in such high esteem, will cease to exist.
Bryant’s life can only be summed up as truly amazing. A high school basketball star at seventeen, he went straight to the NBA and was playing for the legendary Los Angeles Lakers. Now twenty-three, Bryant has three NBA titles, is a four time all star, has endorsements with Nike, McDonald’s and Sprite, not to mention a beautiful six month-old daughter. He was possibly at the peak of his career, and was setting the standard for young, aspiring athletes.
As seen before, athletes, celebrities and politicians have all gotten in trouble. In the aftermath, their lives and image have always changed and taken a bad turn. Image can be everything in the world of sports entertainment, and when it comes to a social issue such as the heinous crime of rape, an image can be tarnished forever.
Rape is a serious crime and an unfortunate recurrence in today’s society. Many rape victims don’t even come forward because of the embarrassment and the battle for justice they would encounter.
We have to question Bryant’s judgment. Bryant has been admired for not just his ability on the court, but his professionalism off the court. Now, who can look at Kobe the same way?
Athletes and celebrities have been targets of crazed groupies for years, and that can lead to some controversy. If he is innocent, then he committed adultery and lost the image of the NBA superstar who had the storybook marriage, all the while resisting the extravagant nightlife many athletes live. If he is guilty of rape, then he has committed a very serious crime, and has deceived the public and his fans who once believed he was a model citizen.
Will fans and the media forgive Bryant for something as big as rape? Many people still don’t believe OJ Simpson, and they certainly never forgave him. Bryant can’t win in either scenario: his image will forever have a black cloud over it.
Bryant’s life will change vastly the next few months. Not only will his image take a heavy blow, but also so will his personal life. His marriage is now shaky and he has a long road to travel with his wife Vanessa.
Individually, Bryant has some soul searching to do over the next few months. He is human like anyone of us; he made a mistake and now has to learn to live with it. Bryant must be shaken up that he is now being charged with rape, he knows how serious the crime is, and the fact that he even put himself in this potential position is something life altering.
Kobe Bryant has most definitely seen the ugly side of the world you never want to see, though his current pain is self-imposed. Going from role model to bad guy isn’t pleasant, especially when you realize you just let down all the people who used to aspire to be just like you.