On Dec. 12, 2006, in a televised episode concerning violence against homeless people, television personality Dr. Phil brought on Ty Beeson as his first guest. Beeson, known for creating and making millions off of his video series "Bum Fights," where he tapes homeless people fighting each other for small sums of money, showed up on stage dressed at Dr. Phil himself, complete with a bald cap, a suit, and a fake mustache.
In a rare occurrence, the TV host refused to interview his guest, and had him escorted off the stage, calling him despicable for his exploitation of these people. However, as he was leaving the stage, Beeson enforced the point that Dr. Phil himself exploits people on his show too, leading vulnerable people to be exposed to a live television audience, and making their conditions known to the world. Ty Beeson is no saint, but he brought up an interesting point that day on moral ambiguity.
On Jan. 26, 2020, the world lost a great basketball player and philanthropist, Kobe Bryant. A 20-year veteran of the NBA, Bryant spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five championships for the franchise, two of which he was named Most Valuable Player.
Nobody can deny that Kobe Bryant was a great basketball player, and some can argue that he was the best player of all time, and his death was a tragedy of many fronts. However, it is important when analyzing an important figure to recognize one’s achievements as well as their faults.
In 2003, he was accused of sexual assault and false imprisonment over a dispute in Colorado that, while never fully investigated, lost Bryant endorsement deals and his public image. He continued to face criticism in 2011, when an anti-gay slur targeted toward a referee caused him to be fined by the league. His philanthropic work throughout the years should also be recognized. His organization, The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, helps hundreds of struggling people every year.
As fans and the league continue to mourn him and recognize, it is an important lesson in moral ambiguity when it comes to legacy. Like Dr. Phil, Kobe Bryant has a mixed legacy. His off-the-court actions occur at the same time as his incredible playing achievements. There is no doubt that the deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and the other seven on board the helicopter were tragic. But as we look back upon his life, let us remember both that his legacy is both good and bad.
Student Sports Writer for the Westlake Boys Basketball Team.