Updated 08:20 PM EST, Wed, Dec 08, 2021

Kobe Bryant Responds to Backlash Over Controversial Comments About Trayvon Martin

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Kobe Bryant has found himself in a media fire storm over his recent comments about the Trayvon Martin tragedy.

During an interview in the April 4 issue of the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Lakers star criticized the Miami Heat for posting a photo wearing hoodies in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African-American shot to death in Florida by George Zimmerman back in 2012.

In the interview, when the athlete was asked about the Miami Heat's show of solidarity for with the slain teen, Bryant ojected to the idea that African-Americans should base their opinions on race.

"I won't react to something just because I'm supposed to, because I'm an African-American," Bryant said. "That argument doesn't make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we've progressed as a society? Well, we've progressed as a society, then don't jump to somebody's defense just because they're African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won't assert myself."

Critics pointed out that the 35-year-old basketball pro spent much of his childhood in Italy while his father was playing professional basketball overseas and is therefore out of touch with African-American culture.

"The @MiamiHEAT didn't defend #trayvonmartin because he was Black. It was the ASSUMPTION of guilty due to wearing a hoodie, @kobebryant," tweeted TV host Ronald Martin.

In addition, civil rights activist Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E., called for African Americans to boycott Bryant's products.

"African-American youth should no longer buy Bryant's jerseys or shoes and should boycott all products he endorses," Ali said in a statement on Thursday, according to Fox News. "Bryant doesn't identify with the struggle that our African-American youth face nationally. So why should we continue to support Bryant who has never truly identified with the African-American experience."

Later on, Bryant clarified his support for Martin by tweeting, "Travon [sic] Martin was wronged THATS my opinion and thats what I believe the FACTS showed. The system did not work #myopinion #tweetURthoughts."

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