Documentary filmmaker Abigail Disney spoke publicly about the ongoing conversations surrounding Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant’s legacy after the basketball star and his daughter Gianna were among nine killed in a devastating helicopter accident on Sunday.
Disney's tweet on Wednesday follows remarks by actress Evan Rachel Wood, who wrote in a since-deleted tweet that although Bryant is heralded as a sports icon, “he was also a rapist." Wood's tweet was met with intense backlash, with many on social media arguing that the “Westworld” actress’ comments were made much too soon and were in bad taste.
Now Disney is being taken to task for her remarks, which came in response to a Washington Post op-ed remembering Bryant’s life — including a 2003 incident outlined in a 2016 article from The Daily Beast in which a 19-year-old woman accused Bryant of choking and sexually assaulting her in a Colorado hotel room.
The Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker echoed Wood's sentiment.
“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,” she wrote, before many Bryant fans responded to her statement in fury.
“Each of us is more than our worst deeds, and less than our best. People aren’t easily divided into good and bad. I won’t excuse or defend what KB may have done that night, but if you aren’t moved by the hundreds of stories of his generosity and kindness, you aren’t paying attn,” one person tweeted.
“This is unfair and not ok. Feel how you will about him but his wife lost her husband, his daughters lost their father. If you must go down this road, educate yourself fully on that situation first, you just may feel a bit differently,” wrote another user.
“Damn some people have no respect for the dead. Kobe literally lost his life along with his daughter a few days ago. Its national news when a 'black' athlete makes a mistake but when Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and get a 6 month sentence and served 3,” said another poster.
Meanwhile, an additional Twitter user simply asked Disney point-blank, “Serious questions for you: Can people redeem themselves, reform, or are we forever to be judged by our past actions?”
Disney, whose grandfather Roy O. Disney co-founded The Walt Disney Company, did not respond to the question posed to her by the Twitter user.
However, despite her stance, Disney’s response was also met with praise by some who were in agreement.
“Thank you I’ve been wondering about the deafening silence on this,” one tweet read.
“Thank you, while this is tragic for all the passengers on board and his family. It’s hard to hear him being celebrated as a hero when he’s a rapist,” another Bryant detractor added.
And one social media commenter said this to Disney: "I can see where he tried to mend his ways after that episode in his life. But you also cannot write his obituary without mentioning this episode either.”
Disney and Wood are not the first people to be criticized for their responses in the days since the helicopter crash. A Washington Post reporter and a CNN reporter have both been criticized for bringing up The Daily Beast article and reminding the public that Bryant faced a rape charge.
Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment at the time, but the criminal case was ultimately dropped when the accuser refused to testify and agreed to hear Bryant issue a formal apology in court, which he had his lawyer read.
At the time, the NBA star admitted to cheating on his wife but said the encounter was consensual. Bryant and the accuser went to court in a civil case over the matter, which was settled in 2005 for an undisclosed amount.
Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.