In June of 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old woman who worked at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Eagle County, Colo. At the time, Bryant faced up to four years in prison if convicted or up to life on probation for the rape case.
While the accuser dropped her charges against Bryant a little more than a year later, life for Bryant was put on its head, with sponsors, such as Nutella and McDonald’s, promptly dropping him as details of the charges became public. In addition, his two-year marriage to wife Vanessa seemed to be doomed from the gate.
Of his time in “darkness,” Bryant told Bensinger that the ordeal seemed endless, “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.”
Bryant then went on to say that the stress that comes with playing basketball — and trying to make a winning shot — couldn’t compare to the pressure he underwent during that time, “A lot of — other players can’t relate to that sort of stuff, to that type of pressure. That’s real pressure. That’s life pressure. It’s not hitting the game winning shot. If you make it, you win. If you miss it — no. That’s not pressure.”
Still, all the pressure in the world didn’t disorient Bryant’s game on the court. During the court proceedings, Bryant helped his team win games back to back. For Bryant, he says that he was intent on making sure that naysayers didn’t see him sweat, “I’m not going to stop playing. 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.”
Overall, though, Bryant says the experience helped him to have faith and persevere, “It [the rape experience] just really teaches you how to let go and how to trust and not try to control everything.”