Kobe Bryant sounds off on Kanye’s controversial slavery comments during speaking engagement

Kobe Bryant(Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Dow Jones)

After weeks of keeping his thoughts to himself, Kobe Bryant is finally speaking up about Kanye West‘s controversial comments about slavery.

Tuesday, the basketball legend surprised 300 excited high school students at WE RISE, a 10-day pop-up festival in Los Angele dedicated to inspiring change in the mental health system.

During a Q&A with the kids, Bryant was asked how he felt about West’s statements that slavery was a choice.

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“I’m sure the same way everybody else here in this room feels,” he responded. “‘What the hell are you talking about?’ I think that was my reaction as is everybody else’s reaction.”

“The thing about our country is that you have the right to say whatever it is that you want to say,” Bryant explained. “That’s the beautiful part about living in a democracy.”

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“Conversely, you also have to take the response that come after that, as well, because everybody has a freedom to say what it is that they feel. I was shocked just like everybody else. I think, for him, he’s one of these entertainers that’s always in a constant state of growth, he’s always challenging, not us as people, but really himself. He’s doing a lot of questioning internally himself, so I just take it for what it is and completely disagree.”

Bryant’s response was decidedly more compassionate than other celebs like Snoop Dogg who has spent weeks dragging West on social media and recently told The Breakfast Club, Kanye desperately needs more black women in his life.

“I hate to be black and white,” Snoop began during the sit down. “There’s no black women in his life. Let’s just keep that 100. I got aunties that’ll put up with those big ‘ol church hats on, ‘n***a what’s happening? what you on?’”

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From there, the conversation shifted to the passing of West’s mother and how it has affected him.

“That’s when I started to think that, how she was instrumental in his life,” Snoop went on. “Remember the music that he was making when she was here, and the spirit that he had? That’s gone now, if you never lost your mother, you don’t understand that feeling.”

Check out Snoop’s full interview below.