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Kobe Bryant’s great legacy includes a sexual assault allegation, critics point out

Warning: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised. 

Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was one of the best basketball players of all time before he died at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash.

Tributes to his life have been overwhelmingly positive, but some have called for a darker chapter of his story to be acknowledged amid the fanfare: He faced a rape accusation in 2003, though the charges were later dropped.

Fans, athletes and celebrities focused on Bryant’s many accomplishments following his death on Jan. 26, in a crash that killed eight others. They also hailed him as a devoted husband and father.

However, thousands of people have also called for the rape allegations against Bryant to be included in the final story of his life, no matter how messy or soon it might seem to bring up such a difficult topic.

“What happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family,” tweeted actor Evan Rachel Wood, who has been an outspoken advocate for sexual assault survivors.

Wood added to her message on Monday amid backlash over her comments.

“It was a reminder that everyone will have different feelings and there is room for us all to grieve together instead of fighting,” she wrote.

“Everyone has lost. Everyone will be triggered, so please show kindness and respect to all.”

Lawyer and feminist Jill Filipovic called the rape allegations an important but “inconvenient” part of Bryant’s legacy, which she says should not be ignored.

“Out of some mislaid definition of ‘respect,’ we are so excellent at sidelining the inconvenient parts, at least when the inconvenient parts are women we’ve made invisible and the one inconvenienced is a man we would prefer to keep admiring, without complication,” Filipovic wrote in a post on her website after Bryant’s death.

“This is all key to Kobe’s story.”

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