Kobe Bryant Claims Teen Choice Award

In a rare public appearance since being charged with rape, Kobe Bryant was joined by his wife Vanessa at the 2003 Teen Choice Awards, where he was named favorite male athlete, reports the Associated Press.

The show was held Saturday night at the Universal Amphitheater, and the media was prevented from recording the L.A. Lakers star’s acceptance speech.

Bryant, 24, held his fist in the air (New York’s Daily News interpreted his gesture as the two-fingered peace sign) after claiming his trophy, a multicolored surfboard emblazoned with the words “Teen Choice Awards 2003,” says AP.

Bryant, who won the award last year, also kissed the hand of his wife, 21.

Bryant beat fellow Laker Shaquille O’Neal and New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter for the honor, which was sponsored by Teen PEOPLE magazine (the sister publication of PEOPLE) and decided upon by voters aged 13 to 19 from May 22 to early July, just as news of the sexual assault allegations against Bryant were being made public.

Bryant admitted at a press conference that he had sex with a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort on June 30, but denies her claims of sexual assault. He remains free on $25,000 bond.

The Teen Choice Awards ceremony was taped for broadcast on the FOX network Aug. 6 — the same day Bryant is due in court for a hearing on the charges.

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