Kobe Bryant Interview: Retirement Rumors And How Rape Charges Made Him A Better Person

Though the Kobe Bryant rape case is old news (by almost a decade), it apparently still weighs heavily on his mind. In a recent interview, Kobe admitted that he considered the legal proceedings against him as a “dark time,” though they ultimately changed him and helped him grow as a person.

A bit of history – Kobe Bryant was charged with sexual assault of a hotel employee in Eagle, Colorado all the way back in 2003. Though Kobe admitted marital infidelity in the legal and media battle that followed, he denied that he had sexually assaulted the employee in question, reports MSNBC. The charges were ultimately dismissed without ever seeing a full-blown trial, but the effect on Kobe’s public image was so severe, he still hasn’t fully recovered nearly ten years later.

Kobe rarely talks about those times anymore, but opened up about it in an interview with Graham Bensinger, revealing in some detail his feelings about the whole ordeal.

“The challenge is who you are as a person, not only individually but as a family….” Bryant said. “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. 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.”

Regarding what he took away from the ordeal, Bryant said:

“As a person it just really teaches you how to let go and how to trust and not try to control everything. And that decreases your stress level ten-fold.”

Though there were some calls to get Kobe off-court after the scandal, his dedication to the game was unwavering, and was indeed the only thing that got him through the following years.

“I’m not going to stop playing,” Kobe said. “I’m not just because you guys think I should stop playing, just because you guys think that I won’t perform as well. I’m going to show you. Truthfully, it was stress release for me.”

Kobe ultimately settled with his accuser and maintained his innocence regarding the charges. He did, however, admit to cheating on his wife Vanessa. He very publicly apologized, buying her $4M worth of jewelry, reports TMZ. Whether the rocks had anything to do with it, the two reconciled up to 2011, when Vanessa filed for divorce.

The full 22-minute Kobe Bryant interview can be watched here. In addition to the sexual assault charges, Kobe discusses his relationships with Shaquille O’Neal, Phil Jackson, and his thoughts on retirement.

Do you think Kobe will retire? What are your thoughts concerning his sexual assault case?