During CNN’s coverage of the death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13- year-old daughter Gianna Maria Bryant, both killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash near Malibu, CA along with seven others, network sports analyst Christine Brennan reflected on the learning curve the elder Bryant faced as an athlete that turned pro immediately after high school.

Brennan noted the spotlight Bryant faced as a professional basketball player in Los Angeles for the NBA’s Lakers but also was sure to discuss the sexual assault allegations he faced as a player as well.

“He was a kid when we first heard about him,” she explained. “He’s coming out of high school right to the NBA. And we know how hard that is. Players have done it. LeBron James certainly has done it. Kobe did it. But it’s rare, and it is rare the arc of the story would be so successful and just so majestic. And Kobe did learn. He talked about the mistakes he made. He was a kid. He goes from high school right to the L.A. Lakers, and a spotlight that that New York, L.A., maybe Chicago. You know, there’s so few places that spotlight burns so brightly, and Kobe embraced it and went right into that. And, of course, there are issues, while it seems difficult to mention at the moment of his death that we’re talking about the sexual assault allegations, the trial — that was a terrible moment, and that was not good, obviously. I’m not going to sugar-coat that at all.”

Brennan continued, “But within those mistakes, there was also learning, and there was also a sense from him, as we saw, as I mentioned a little bit ago with his daughters, of wanting to be a part of showing them this new world for women and opportunities for women and girls. And so as you look at the arc of his life and his career and you look at how he’s grown and became just a stalwart in our culture and the community, and as I said, the things that could have been coming forward over the next 20 to 30 years in his life — I mean, that is the tragedy is losing him, what he has done, the history of Kobe, hall of fame, one of the great names in sports and one of the great performers ever in the NBA and throughout sports — but also the promise of what he could do in our culture moving forward.”

“Even though he was retired, there was so much more yet to come for Kobe,” she added.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

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