In 2016, WRN published a story about how Kobe Bryant’s faith helped him withstand and move past difficult times personally and professionally. We reprise this story now in memory of one of the truly great figures in sport.

Kobe Bryant’s Catholic faith helped him through dark days in the early 2000s.

Kobe Bryant, the son of former National Basketball Association player Joe Bryant, was born and raised a Catholic. He found success very early in his life. NBA drafted him directly from high school. He was only 18. At the age of 19, he won the Slam Dunk Contest. It made him a fan favorite and earned him the reputation of a high-flyer.

At the age of 30, he was awarded the regular season's MVP (Most Valuable Player) award. 2008 and 2012 saw him earning gold medals in the Summer Olympics. Following a very successful NBA career, he retired last month, citing physical decline. Bryant's physical decline actually started at the age of 34 when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Kobe Bryant holds the distinction as the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history.

In 2003, the then 25-year old Kobe Bryant was accused of rape by a woman. Bryan admitted having intercourse with the woman but denied rape. The Court dropped the charges against him. The woman then filed a civil lawsuit against Bryant. The suit was settled outside the court. Bryant's career, as well as his personal life suffered. The advertisers distanced themselves from him. Vanessa Laine Bryant, Bryant's wife, filed for divorce.

Kobe Bryant, to cope with his personal and career issues, did not turn to drugs and/or alcohol. He turned to God. He went to his church and talked to his priest. The priest advised Bryant to move on with his life. He said Bryant's life is in God's hands, and He will not give Bryan something that he could not handle. Later, Bryant in an interview with GQ Magazine said that for him, that was the turning point.

He took the advice of the priest to his heart and started living a worthy life. He slowly found success again in his career and personal life. He and his wife got back together. Together, they started the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (KVBFF). The foundation encourages young kids to develop their social and physical skills through charity work and sports.

According to Bryant, he started KVBFF because he does not want his entire life to be defined by just the many points that he scored and the many championships that he won. He would like KVBFF to be part of his legacy as well. He also thinks that everybody makes mistakes in their life. You cannot tell a homeless person that the reason why he/she is homeless is because of a mistake that he/she made in his/her past life, it is their own fault. According to Bryant, that is not right.

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