Kobe Bryant was an All-Star on the court, but his legacy off the hardwood was more complex.
The legendary NBA player made headlines in July 2003 when he was arrested on felony sexual assault charges in Colorado.
A 19-year-old hotel employee accused the Los Angeles Lakers star, then 25, of raping her in his hotel room at The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Edwards, Colorado.
The woman said that, after giving Bryant a tour of the hotel, she consented to go to his room and kiss him — but he then began to grope her and forced himself on her.
She said he choked her for much of the assault.
“Every time I said ‘no,’ he tightened his hold around me,” she told police, according to court documents obtained by The Daily Beast.
Afterward, she told cops that Bryant warned her, “[This] is just between the two, the two of us, nobody is gonna know about this, you’re not going to tell anybody.”
Bryant, who was married with a 5-month-old daughter at the time, maintained that the two had consensual sex.
“I didn’t force her to do anything against her will. I’m innocent,” he said at a news conference after being charged — with wife Vanessa standing by his side.
“I sit here in front of you guys furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery.”
Authorities said the woman was examined at a hospital the day after the encounter and had injuries “not consistent with consensual sex.”
She also had a small bruise on her jawline and her blood was found on the T-shirt Bryant wore on the night of the incident, cops said.
In an interview with cops, Bryant allegedly admitted to choking the woman but implied it was a sexual kink.
Prosecutors dropped the charges — which could have sent Bryant to prison for life — in 2004 after the accuser decided against testifying.
A civil case she brought against him was settled out of court in 2005 for an undisclosed amount.
Part of the suit involved a public apology from Bryant.
“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,” his statement said.
“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.”
In the aftermath, Bryant lost lucrative endorsement campaigns, including with Coca-Cola and Nike — but not for long.
He resumed being Nike’s pitchman in July 2005.
The allegation did return to haunt him in 2018, when 17,000 people signed a petition demanding he be stripped of his Academy Award nomination for his animated short, “Dear Basketball.”
Bryant won the Oscar but was dropped from the jury of the Animation Is Film Festival over the accusations.
As tributes poured in for the All-Star after his death Sunday, some recalled the allegation.
“What has happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family. He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist,” tweeted actress Evan Rachel Wood. “And all of these truths can exist simultaneously.”