Kobe Bryant joins “Proud to Play” campaign

In the heat of the moment, Kobe Bryant uttered some words he would soon regret.

Three years ago, Bryant yelled a gay slur toward an official out of frustration over a foul call. Television cameras caught the exchange, the incident sparking outrage from gay and lesbian groups much more rapidly than one of Bryant’s scoring binges. Since then, Bryant has vowed he would use that moment of weakness into a teachable moment.

Bryant recently appeared on Youtube’s “Proud to Play” campaign, highlighting prominent voices expressing support for homosexual athletes. Last year, forward Robbie Rogers of Major League Soccer’s Galaxy became the first openly gay player to compete in a top North American professional sports league. Former Harvard-Westlake standout Jason Collins became the first openly gay basketball player to be on an NBA roster by joining the Brooklyn Nets midway through the 2013-14 season. Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced he was gay mere weeks before the NFL combine and NFL draft.

During those times, Bryant both tweeted and spoke out in support for those athletes. He also chastised a fan on Twitter who used a gay slur. That sparked another user from pointing out Bryant’s gay slur three years ago that drew an NBA-imposed $100,00 fan.

“exactly! That wasn’t cool and was ignorant on my part,” Bryant tweeted then. “I own it and learn from it and expect the same from others.”

Bryant has demonstrated that with his words and actions.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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