“Was I afraid of going to jail? Yes. It was 25-to-life, man. I was terrified,” Kobe said. 

Kobe Bryant was a great athlete and father, but being rich and famous didn’t keep him from mistakes or trials. 

It also didn’t keep him from faith. 

Philly Born, Italy Raised

Kobe was born into a Christian family in Philadelphia, where his father was a basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers. 

When his father retired from the NBA, he moved the family to Reggio Emilia, Italy, to continue playing professional basketball. Kobe was only 6 when they moved to a new country, but he adapted to the lifestyle and quickly learned Italian. http://bit.ly/2uy2rTA

Although he lived in Italy, his favorite team was always the Los Angeles Lakers, the team he would go on to play for. The family moved back to the U.S. where Kobe excelled in high school and college basketball before being drafted to the NBA. 

“My parents are my backbone,” Kobe said. “Still are. They’re the only group that will support you if you score zero or you score 40.” http://bit.ly/2t0TQrY

He married his wife, Vanessa, in a Catholic church in 2001, and the two lived happily for a while. They seemed to have it all — money, love, the good life — until a mistake on Kobe’s part almost made the whole thing come tumbling down. 

Rape Charges

Kobe had sex with another woman in 2003. She accused him of rape, and while he admitted to the sexual encounter, he said it was consensual. The scandal was top news for a while as it became a matter of he-said-she-said.

The charges were ultimately dismissed after the accuser refused to testify against Kobe, but the affair did a lot of damage to his marriage. Refusing to let his mistake ruin everything, he turned to faith for help.  

“The (loss of the) endorsements were really the least of my concerns,” Kobe said. “Was I afraid of going to jail? Yes. … I was terrified. The one thing that really helped me during that process … was talking to a priest. It was actually kind of funny: He looks at me and says, ‘Did you do it?’ And I say, ’’Of course not.’ Then he asks, ‘Do you have a good lawyer?’ And I’m like, ‘Uh, yeah, he’s phenomenal.’ So then he just said, ‘Let it go. Move on. … It’s in (God’s) hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.’ And that was the turning point.” http://bit.ly/2uxkFo5

This change, the moment he decided to give everything to God and let Him handle it, was noticed by others as well. 

“His most inspiring trait was his decision to turn to his faith in God and receive God’s mercy and to be a better man after a regretful decision,” said singer Cristina Ballestero who recently celebrated mass alongside the NBA star. 

Giving Back

Once the cheating scandal had blown over and the rape charges had been dropped, Kobe decided to give back to those who were less fortunate than he was. He started the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, a nonprofit designed to help children and families in distress. 

The foundation offers camps, financial aid and cultural enrichment for kids around the world, in addition to opening up shelters to combat youth homelessness. 

“(Homelessness) is one that kind of gets pushed on the back burner because it’s easy to point the blame at those who are homeless and say, ‘Well, you made that bad decision. This is where you are. It’s your fault,’” Kobe said. “In life, we all make mistakes, and to stand back and allow someone to live that way and kind of wash your hands of it … that’s not right.” http://bit.ly/2uAy5Qk

Gone Too Soon 

One quarter of a second — the time it took you to read the first part of this sentence — is all the time it took for a helicopter carrying NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people to fall out of the sky. Kobe was only 41. 

The world knew Kobe as a basketball star and watched him become a father. What we didn’t know, at least not until after his death, was Kobe the man of faith — the man who accepted Jesus early but returned to Him later on in life, the man who credits his faith with saving his marriage. 

While the world will always remember Kobe for his talent on the court, the details about his faith and how he handled the rough times in his life give us a full picture of who he was. 

“It’s the one thing you can control,” Kobe said. “You are responsible for how people remember you — or don’t. So don’t take it lightly.” http://bit.ly/2t0TQrY