What Kobe Bryant Said About Repairing His Marriage and Building Family After 2003 Rape Scandal
The former NBA star married his wife Vanessa in 2001 and they went on to have four daughters together
While most will remember Kobe Bryant as an NBA legend, many will also remember the basketball star as a family man.
On Sunday, Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas Sunday morning, a source confirms to PEOPLE. He was 41.
The former athlete was reportedly traveling with eight other people in his private helicopter when it went down, according to TMZ. A rep for Bryant also confirmed to TMZ that his daughter Gianna, 13, was killed in the crash.
Bryant married his wife Vanessa, 37, in 2001. The couple went on to have four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Gianna, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
However, the late basketball star’s early marriage was marred by a sexual assault case just two years after he and Vanessa married.
In 2003, Bryant pled not guilty to felony sexual assault after a 19-year-old employee of a Vail-area resort accused him of rape, PEOPLE reported at the time. The woman claimed the then-Los Angeles Lakers player also blocked her from leaving his room and allegedly choked her. Criminal charges against the athlete were eventually dropped, and a civil case brought against Bryant was settled out of court.
Bryant claimed the encounter was consensual and apologized to the woman in a statement read in court, saying in part, “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 New York Times reported.
Speaking on a recent episode of Showtime Basketball’s All the Smoke, the five-time NBA champ opened up about rebuilding his relationship after the scandal, and the persistence it took to fix his marriage.
“Commitment and [the] competitiveness of ‘We’re going to succeed,’ ” was crucial, Bryant said.
He added that it also required solidarity between the couple when it came to working through those difficult moments.
“That’s all the beauty of it: having the persistence and determination to work through things — very, very tough things — and we’ve been able to do that,” he said of him and Vanessa.
On Sunday, emergency personnel responded to the crash site but no one onboard survived.
Spokespersons for LA county sheriff’s office and LAPD did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.