When Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020, Twitter users posted a wide variety of comments. Actress Evan Rachel Wood was among this group, tweeting that the late Los Angeles Lakers player was both a sports hero and "a rapist." More than one year later, Bryant's widow, Vanessa, saw the tweets and fired back.
Vanessa posted screenshots on her Instagram Stories that showed Wood's tweet, as well as one from film producer Abigail Disney that referred to the rape allegations from 2003. She captioned the photos with "this just came to my attention." Vanessa also tagged both Wood and Disney to ensure that they received her message. Though neither has responded yet, per TMZ.
vanessa bryant calls out evan rachel wood pic.twitter.com/jl2XtChlBY— ً (@phiIIipasoo) February 27, 2021
Bryant was accused of rape in 2003 by a 19-year-old hotel employee. The NBA player admitted to a sexual encounter with the woman, but he said that it was consensual. The criminal charges against Bryant were dropped after the accuser refused to testify. The woman later filed a civil suit, but that was dismissed after Bryant issued an apology to the alleged victim, which was read in court. Terms of the settlement were undisclosed.
"Your false, insensitive, defamatory and slanderous tweet on 1/26/20 is vile and disturbing to say the least? Behavior like this is part of the reason why innocent black men go to jail for crimes they didn't commit. An accusation doesn't make someone guilty," Vanessa wrote in her Stories.
After Wood originally drew attention with the controversial tweet and sparked a wide variety of comments in return, she opted to make her profile private. She did the same with her Instagram profile. Wood has since returned to Instagram to detail allegations against singer Marilyn Manson.
Disney, on the other hand, still has her tweet on her account. She originally linked to a Washington Post opinion piece about Bryant's criminal case. "I haven’t said anything about Kobe so far because I felt some time needed to pass before weighing in. But yes, it’s time for the sledgehammer to come out. The man was a rapist. Deal with it," Disney tweeted in late January 2020.
Wood and Disney were not the only people talking about the 2003 case and whether it would impact Bryant's legacy. CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King conducted an interview with WNBA legend Lisa Leslie and asked if the allegations complicated his legacy. Leslie replied by saying that she never knew Bryant to be cruel or aggressive towards women.