The discussion of Kobe Bryant’s death has now reached epic proportions. Every single news channel, website, blog, or business is now discussing it or giving opinions. In discussions ranging from his daughter to the FBI’s investigations, Kobe is at the center of every dinner conversation. Ironically, even as the third-greatest basketball player of all time, it took him dying to reach this level of fame.
Interestingly, a large debate topic has been the idea of Kobe’s fate. I recently witnessed a large debate revolving around the idea of Kobe’s beliefs. Some said that, due to his sexual abuse allegations, he was not a Christian. Others disagreed, citing Kobe as a Christian.
At first, I entered the debate as a mediator, trying to ensure that no one side became too forceful. I reminded both sides that, although this was an interesting discussion, the fact that Kobe sinned hardly disqualifies him from Christianity. We are all sinners and all deserve Hell. However, I also reminded the other side that, in the same way, just although Kobe claimed Christianity, we’ll never truly know whether a person was saved or not, regardless of denomination. The only thing we can do is trust in God and hope that those who die suddenly were already believers.
Then, I realized something. Oftentimes, people will say that someone isn’t a Christian simply because of their profession or mannerisms, and yet they refuse to actually research the subject and find out what this person has to say. As it turns out, that is exactly what happened two days ago. The friends of mine taking the side of Kobe’s ignorance said this because of his actions, not his words. And although the saying, “actions speak louder than words” is true, we should never discount someone simply because of a first impression.
And so, having realized that there may be more to this situation then one may believe, I set out to answer my own question: was Kobe Bryant a Christian? The answer is far more surprising than I could have dreamed.
In mid 2003, Kobe was arrested in Colorado due to an investigation in a sexual assault case. At the time, Kobe was staying at a hotel in Eagle, Colorado, where he was preparing to undergo knee surgery nearby. Kobe’s accuser claimed that he had raped her the night before his operation and had filed for assault. He denied these accusations, claiming that, while it had been an adulterous confrontation, he had received full consent. The case was later dropped when the accuser decided against testifying in court.
During this time, Kobe underwent an extreme transformation. He received, for the first time, the full brunt of the public eye, being criticized by millions as an adulterer and rapist. To be fair, these claims were not completely unreasonable, and he understood that. His wife filed for divorce, and the two separated for several years, leaving Kobe even more alone than ever. Yet somehow, he overcame this massive roadblock and continued his career, going on to play some of the greatest seasons the NBA had ever seen. What happened?
This would remain a mystery until 2006, when an interview with Stephen A. Smith revealed exactly what happened. Smith surmised the incident to Kobe, then asked what happened. Kobe’s response seemed to catch the pastor by surprise.
“God is great!” He said.
“Is it that simple?” Smith asked.
“God is great,” Bryant repeated. “It doesn’t get much simpler than that.”
Smith followed up asking Bryant if he truly knew that before being accused of rape. “Did you know that? I mean everyone knows that but the way you know it now, did you know it before that incident took place?”
“You can know it all you want, but until you have to pick up that cross that you can’t carry and He picks it up for you and carries you and the cross, then you know,” Bryant asserted as applause broke out in the audience.
“God is great!” -Kobe BryantTweet
This is nothing short of miraculous. Kobe not only asserts his faith in God, but he also says that he only felt relief from the burden of the media upon being confronted by God. In doing this, he unintentionally quotes Matthew 11:30, which says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (English Standard Version). Kobe would later detail the fact that, during the difficult and trying time of the court case, he had felt the full weight of the world upon him and didn’t know what to do. With no other options, he turned to God, who literally released him from the weight of his burden. Kobe would be reborn a new man.
And now, 14 years later, we discover that this faith continued. Just before the accident that would so tragically end his life, Kobe Bryant took his daughter Gianna to mass, showing that he hadn’t turned from the Faith and had even begun to shepherd his daughter.
Having read these things and understanding them to be true, I now tell you in full confidence: I believe Kobe Bryant was a Christian, and even know he rejoices with his Maker. While my deepest, most sorrowful condolences go out to his family, I also understand the great and everlasting peace that comes in knowing a family member has joined their Father in heaven. Praise be to God for his everlasting peace!
Alright, that’s all for today. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, make sure to click that Follow button below (or to the side), so as to not miss out on any new posts. Thanks again, and I hope you have a fantastic day!
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