Kobe Bryant made it to the stage at the 90th Academy Awards, taking home the Oscar for animated short film for “Dear Basketball.” Some noted that with past rape accusations against Bryant, his appearance seemed an odd fit with the night’s Time’s Up anti-harassment theme.
Bryant, 39, was charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in Colorado in 2003. A year after the accusation, prosecutors dropped the charges because the woman did not want to go ahead with a trial. Bryant said the sex was consensual.
The Oscars on Sunday focused heavily on the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, meant to empower women to speak out against sexual harassment and abuse, and some viewers reacted harshly to seeing Bryant win the award.
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Many social media users brought up the accusations against Bryant from 2003. Meanwhile, others noted Bryant’s short acceptance speech.
Kobe Bryant stated, “As basketball players we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble, but … we do a bit more than that.”
His comment was a reference to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham’s heated discussion with LeBron James last month, which some viewers recognized.
The former Los Angeles Laker arrived in the press room to a near standing ovation and was swamped with questions.
Bryant told reporters, “I feel better than winning a championship, to be honest with you. I swear I do.”
When he told people he wanted to write and tell stories after retiring from basketball, Bryant said he the reaction was, “That’s cute, you’ll be depressed when your career’s over. To be here now and have this sense of validation, this is crazy man.”
Kobe Bryant attended the Oscars with his wife Vanessa. The two split up in 2011 but reconciled in 2013. They welcomed their third child in 2016.