Gayle King Admits To BFF Oprah Winfrey That Kobe Bryant Backlash Was ‘Very Painful’

Gayle King talked about putting on her 'big girl pants' when trying to cope with the intense criticism she received after bringing up Kobe Bryant's past sexual assault case in the midst of his tragic death in Jan.

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Gayle King, 65, is revealing how she felt about the backlash she faced after asking a question about Kobe Bryant‘s past sexual assault case following his death. The broadcast journalist sat down with her longtime best friend Oprah Winfrey, 66, for an interview on Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life In Focus Tour in Denver, Colorado on Mar. 7 and spoke about many parts of her life, including the unfortunate and “painful” Kobe situation that took place shortly after his death in late Jan.

“I have moved on. Is there a scab? Yeah. But I have moved on,” Gayle told Oprah about the backlash before admitting it was difficult at first. “I put on my game face and my big girl pants, because I never lost sight of who I was, what I believe I am, and my intention. I’ve never lost sight of that. But it certainly was a learning curve, and it was very painful.”

The backlash Gayle received, which included death threats, happened after she asked WNBA star Lisa Leslie, 47, if she thought Kobe’s past sexual assault case would affect his legacy during an interview on CBS This Morning. In 2003, the former Los Angeles Lakers player made headlines for pleading not guilty to felony sexual assault after a 19-year-old employee of a Colorado ski resort accused him of sexually assaulting her after allegedly blocking her from leaving his room. She also accused him of allegedly choking her. The criminal charges in the case were eventually dropped and a civil case was settled out of court.

In addition to backlash from random social media users, Gayle faced backlash from rappers Snoop Dogg, 48, and 50 Cent, 44. “Gayle King, you’re out of pocket for that s***,” Snoop said in a video he posted on social media after the CBS interview aired. “Way out of pocket. What do you gain from that? We expect more from you Gayle. Don’t you hang out with Oprah? Why are you all attacking us? We’re your people. You don’t come after Harvey Weinstein, asking those dumba** questions. I’m sick of y’all. Funky doghead bi***. How dare you try to torch my homeboy’s reputation, punk motherf*****. Respect the family and back off, b****, before we come get you.” He later apologized for the harsh remarks.

Despite admitting to “moving on” from the negative feedback, Gayle also told Oprah, who defended her on Today on Feb. 7, that she doesn’t think any of it was appropriate. “I think we can disagree politically, we can disagree socially, if you want to, but I just think humanity should prevail always,” she said after Oprah admitted she thinks not enough “good people” publicly stuck up for her in the midst of the criticism. “I think we still have to figure out a way to navigate that with each other. That we can disagree, and you can be mad at me even, but you can’t speak to me the way I was spoken to and threatened.”