Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is a five-time NBA champion, guaranteed future Hall of Famer and one of the 10 greatest basketball players ever. These days, even his most vehement critics, even the folks who hate the way he plays ball and everything he stands for, can’t deny that he’s one of the most recognizable and highly-respected faces representing the NBA.
That wasn’t always the case, though.
Back in 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault by a Colorado woman named Katelyn Faber. Almost as soon as the gruesome accusations were made against him, No. 24 (then No. 8) became persona non grata amongst fans and sponsors. Beyond his obvious legal woes, Bryant also found himself in a dark mental place that few could ever fully understand.
During a recent interview with Graham Bensinger, Los Angeles’ biggest star finally opened up about what that experience was really like.
"There's times where it just seems like days are just endless, like this is never going to end. This feeling, this dark time is just never going to be over... " Bryant told Bensinger. "Once you go through something like that, you can't help but be different. You can't help but have a better sense of who you are."
While he was very alone, Bryant did get some advice from other athletes who had been in similar situations – namely, Baltimore Ravens vet, Ray Lewis.
"A lot of -- other players can't relate to that sort of stuff, to that type of pressure. That's real pressure. That's life pressure. It's not hitting the game winning shot. If you make it, you win. If you miss it -- no. That's not pressure."
In the end, Bryant maintains that he came away from that ordeal a better person.
“It just really teaches you how to let go and how to trust and not try to control everything.”
You can check out Bensinger’s interview with Kobe in the video below.
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(Kudos Graham Bensinger)