Remembering Kobe Bryant, the basketball star who scolded a fan for using ‘gay’ as an insult back in 2013
Retired basketball player Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died yesterday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of seven other people.
Bryant was considered one of the best players in National Basketball Association (NBA) history, and was also known within the LGBT+ community as a powerful ally.
The 41-year-old, who retired from professional basketball in 2016, was travelling to an academy where he was due to coach his daughter’s team when the crash happened, The New York Times reports.
The helicopter crashed in an area with “very rough terrain”, Los Angeles county sheriff Alex Villanueva said, meaning it could take authorities days to recover the bodies.
Dr Jonathan R Lucas, chief medical examiner for the county, said: “We will be doing our work thoroughly, quickly and with the utmost compassion.”
Kobe Bryant proved that people can change when he told a fan not to use ‘gay’ as an insult.
Kobe Bryant had a complicated relationship with the LGBT+ community during his lifetime. In April 2011, he used a homophobic slur against referee Bennie Adams and was issued a $100,000 fine by the NBA.
Just letting you know… that using ‘your gay’ [sic] as a way to put someone down ain’t ok! #notcool delete that out ur vocab.
Just two years later, he was widely praised when he told a fan on Twitter not to use the word “gay” as an insult.
Tweeting at the time, Bryant told a fan: “Just letting you know… that using ‘your gay’ [sic] as a way to put someone down ain’t ok! #notcool delete that out ur vocab.”
When another fan suggested that he wasn’t in the best position to preach given his history with homophobic slurs, Bryant responded: “Exactly! That wasn’t cool and was ignorant on my part. I own it and learn from it and expect the same from others.”
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) February 11, 2013
It was a significant moment for LGBT+ people to see a major sports star acknowledge openly that he was wrong for using a homophobic slur, and proved that people really can change and learn from their experiences.
Tributes have been pouring in for the former Los Angeles Lakers star from members of the LGBT+ community, who have been reflecting on his remarkable life.
Beyond skills, 1 thing I'd remember about Kobe Bryant for is when he proved people can change.
Remember the time he had to pay a fine for calling a ref a "fucking fag"? He then learned his lesson and even called out fans who's been using "gay" as an insult.
Truly a legend. pic.twitter.com/gWaIujFjrq
— Jap (@japtobias) January 27, 2020
Hundreds of people with different political and religious views. Lesbian, Gay, Straight and Trans. Side by side for one man, Kobe Bryant. We should all want to live a life that warrants a response like this. #RIPKOBE ?? pic.twitter.com/DJ7xlnXKJh
— Malik (@MalikEarnest) January 26, 2020
RIP Kobe and Gianna Bryant. In 2011, Kobe was fined money for using a homophobic slur. Kobe worked to correct his wrongs in 2013, he stepped in to correct a fan for using the term, “You’re gay” in a derogatory manner. This was a big moment for awareness in the LGBTQ community. pic.twitter.com/tIG02511WC
— UFT Pride Committee (@PrideUft) January 27, 2020
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Bryant’s simple act of standing up against the use of homophobic slurs cemented his position as an LGBT+ ally, and his death has been met with sadness by queer people across the world.