Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant got in the middle of a Twitter exchange tonight and told a fan to stop saying "your gay" [sic] as an insult.
Tweeter @PacSmoove got into a tit-for-tat with another Tweeter and shot this message across the bow:
When Bryant saw the Tweet, he set the man straight:
"It's great to see Kobe Bryant's maturation on this subject," said out NBC Sports Radio broadcaster Jason Page, who alerted Outsports to the Twitter exchange. "The fact that he immediately smacked down somebody using that kind of language proves that some guys can learn to understand the impact harmful words can have."
Some on Twitter called Bryant a hypocrite because he called a referee a "faggot" in 2011. Bryant did not shy away from addressing his past:
"I'm very excited to see Kobe taking an active stand on this," You Can Play co-founder Patrick Burke told Outsports. "His actions are proof that athletes who use casual homophobia can be educated on this issue. Athletes who are given a chance to learn from their mistakes can become some of the LGBT community's most valuable supporters."
After apologizing for calling a referee a "faggot" two years ago, Bryant said he would do something to rectify his actions. He hasn't done it yet, but this is definitely a fantastic step. And while some people want to tar and feather athletes for their mistakes, Burke's words couldn't be more true: People who redeem themselves through actions can be deeply powerful allies. If Tim Hardaway can do it, anyone can.