Kobe Bryant‘s wife Vanessa Bryant is slamming a tweet that Evan Rachel Wood posted last year just after his death, in which the Westworld actress called him a “rapist.”
The NBA legend, one of the most celebrated athletes of all time, died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020, along with his and Vanessa’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, one of their four children. After news of their deaths were made public, Evan tweeted, “What has happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family. He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist. And all of these truths can exist simultaneously.”
Scores of people had initially criticized the Westworld actress over the tweet that appeared to allude to a 2003 sexual assault case involving Kobe and an unidentified female accuser, which was later dismissed. On Saturday, Feb. 27, more than a year after the deadly helicopter crash, Vanessa said she learned about Evan’s post, and shared it on her Instagram Story.
“This just came to my attention,” Kobe’s wife wrote in her post, in which she tagged the actress. “Your false, insensitive, defamatory and slanderous tweet on 1/26/20 is vile and disturbing to say the least.”
Evan has not commented on Vanessa’s post and her rep had no immediate comment when reached by E! News.
Kobe Bryant’s Family Album
Last year, shortly following the initial backlash over her initial tweet about Kobe, the actress wrote on Twitter that her post was “not a condemnation or a celebration” but “a reminder that everyone will have different feelings and there is room for us all to grieve together instead of fighting. Everyone has lost. Everyone will be triggered, so please show kindness and respect to all.” Following more online criticism, she later deleted both tweets.
Evan, an activist and rape survivor, has no known personal connection to Kobe. Earlier this month, she made headlines when she alleged that her ex Marilyn Manson, “groomed” her when she was a teenager and abused her for years. He has denied her accusations as well as other abuse claims made by several other women.
In 2003, Kobe was charged with sexual assault of a woman at a Colorado hotel. He denied the allegations, saying they had had a “consensual” encounter. The accuser ultimately refused to testify and the rape charge was dropped.
“Behavior like this is part of the reason why innocent black men go to jail for crimes they didn’t commit,” Vanessa wrote in her post on Saturday. “An accusation doesn’t make someone guilty. YOU DON’T KNOW THE FACTS OF THE CASE.”
In 2004, after the case was dismissed, Kobe issued an apology statement. It read, “I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year.”
“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” the statement continued. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
The accuser later sued the Los Angeles Lakers star and the two reached a settlement over that civil case in 2005.
Evan was one of scores of people who, following Kobe’s death, posted about the sexual assault allegations against the athlete. On her Instagram Story, Vanessa shared supportive messages from people who defended her late husband on social media.
In February 2020, a month after the crash, TV personality Gayle King interviewed retired WNBA star Lisa Leslie about the late Lakers star and brought up the rape case. CBS released a preliminary video from the sit-down and her words angered many of Kobe’s friends and fans, including Snoop Dogg.
He later released an Instagram video in which he said, “How dare you try to tarnish my motherf—king homeboy’s reputation, punk motherf—ker? Respect the family and back off, bitch, before we come get you.”
Following the backlash, Gayle said in a statement that the clip was “taken out of context.” She said, “I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I’d be extremely angry with me too. I am mortified, I am embarrassed and I am very angry.”
And following criticism over his video, Snoop later clarified that he did not threaten Gayle.
Vanessa posted her Stories on Saturday, days after she filed an amended complaint to publicly name police deputies accused of sharing unauthorized photos taken at the scene of the helicopter crash shortly after Kobe, Gianna and the seven other people perished. Her filing is now part of a lawsuit she filed against Los Angeles County and its Sheriff’s Department. County lawyers want to keep the deputies’ names under seal for privacy reasons.
“The Sheriff’s Department wants to redact the names of the deputies that took and/or shared photos of my husband, daughter and other victims,” she wrote on her Instagram Story later on Saturday. “They want their names to be except from the public. Anyone else facing allegations would be unprotected, named and released to the public. Not all law enforcement is bad. These specific deputies need to be held accountable for their actions just like everyone else. #doublestandard.”
After Vanessa filed her lawsuit in September, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said in a statement, “Shortly following this tragic crash, Sheriff [Alex] Villanueva sponsored legislation which now makes it a crime for public safety personnel to take or share non-official pictures of this nature. As a result of the swift actions we took under extraordinary circumstances, no pictures made it into the public arena. We continue to offer our heartfelt sympathies for the victims and their families.”
—Additional reporting by Spencer Lubitz