Kobe Bryant Clarifies Comments After Appearing to Shade a Middle School Girl for Dancing Instead of Balling

Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant is doing some serious damage control setting the record straight after an Instagram post that appeared to show him throwing a 7th-grade girl under the bus went viral on Wednesday night.

In case you missed it, Bryant now coaches AAU basketball for middle school girls. Early Wednesday, the former Los Angeles Laker posted a photo of him and his daughter’s basketball team scowling at the camera.


“Here’s our fourth place ‘winners’ pic lol,” Bryant wrote in the original caption—one so salty it’s a wonder his kidneys are still working.

“Six of the kids in the picture stayed with me and worked every single day to get better and continue to work to this day,” he continued. “The 7th player (not in pic) missed this game for a dance recital so that should tell you where her focus was at the time.”

The Instagram post went viral within hours, as Kobe fans and detractors all over the meme-laden wasteland we call the Internet gathered to opine on whether this was the final form of Mamba Mentality...or if Kobe was just a maniac.


Bryant, meanwhile, tried to smooth things over—first by editing his Instagram caption, which now reads: “the 7th player (not in pic) missed this game for a dance recital so that should tell you where her focus was at this time, meaning she enjoyed dance more than ball which is fine. Now? She eats sleeps and breathes the game.”


He also explained to Twitter users that he was “just explaining why she wasn’t in the pic.”

“Most of my kids on the team played and still play other sports including my daughter so it’s all love,” he said. In a separate response, Bryant also said that it was the girls’ ideas to frown during their picture and he merely “followed their lead.”


He later posted a pic on his Instagram showing the entire team smiling for a photo.


If you thought Kobe was done there—well, you don’t know Kobe. Because he had one last clarification/chaser to send our way: a video of his 12-year-old self dancing in a school show. Posted on his Instagram in the wee hours of Thursday morning, Bryant said he once skipped basketball for two (2!) whole weeks so he could participate in the show.


“I’m all about diversifying while young, then locking in on your passion,” Bryant said in the caption.

“Diversifying while young”—Kobe, that’s called being a damn kid.

Anyway, there goes your man right there in the green. Not what you ordered? Too bad!


So there you have it, straight from the horse’s (but, ahem, not the GOAT’s) mouth: Dancing is Kobe-approved! Everyone is doing fine! Nothing more to see here!


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About the author

Anne Branigin

Staff writer, The Root. Sometimes I blog slow, sometimes I blog quick. Do you have this in coconut?