Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Southern California, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
Bryant, the father of four, was Catholic.
In all nine people were killed in the Jan. 26 crash.
Bryant, 41, is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He retired in 2016 after a 20 year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, in which the shooting guard won five NBA championships, a league MVP award, two scoring championships, and myriad other distinctions.
Beyond basketball, Bryant was a husband and a father who in 2015 attributed his Catholic faith with helping him move past a challenging period in his own life and the life of his family.
Bryant was raised in a Catholic family, and spent much of his childhood living in Italy. He married in 2001 in a Southern California parish.
In 2003, Bryant was arrested after he was accused of raping a woman in a Colorado hotel room.
Bryant admitted a sexual encounter with the woman, but denied that he had committed sexual assault. When the allegation became public, Bryant lost sponsors and faced criminal charges, which were eventually dropped.
Bryant issued an apology to his accuser, with whom he also reached a settlement in a civil lawsuit.
“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. 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,” Bryant said in his 2004 apology.
In 2015, the basketball player told GQ that after the matter was resolved, he decided to shed some superficiality he felt he had built up in his public persona.
“What I came to understand, coming out of Colorado, is that I had to be me, in the place where I was at that moment.”
Bryant said it was a priest who helped him to make some important personal realizations during the ordeal.
Describing his fear of being sent to prison for a crime he believed he had not committed, Bryant told GQ that “The one thing that really helped me during that process—I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic—was talking to a priest.”
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Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images: Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center on November 17, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.