If you’re a celebrity, scandal is part of the trade off, but some celebs have earned bronzed statues in the Hall of Shame of Public Opinion for mistakes they made in front of the whole world. You can’t mention their names without certain situations finding their way into the conversation. There are so many dramas you can name, but off of the top of the dome, here are just a few stars whose antics have become lore.
The Black Mamba is a guaranteed Hall of Famer but his legacy is marred by the false rape charges which cost him lucrative endorsements. In the summer of 2003, Kobe went on trial for sexual assault against a Colorado woman who he claimed to have had consensual sex with, and the whole incident threw some dirt on his squeaky-clean image. The now married father of two professed his innocence in a memorable press conference and gifted Vanessa a purple ring to get back on her good side. He balled some of the best games of his career around that time, and was eventually acquitted, but for some reason, people often bring it up when they talk about the famed Laker.
Halle became the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Leading Actress. It was a pinnacle in her career but in 2000, before all that, she was starring in her own personal drama. Halle was indicted for leaving the scene of a hit and run after her SUV collided with another car. Halle reported the altercation at the hospital and the crash victim initiated a civil lawsuit that was settled out of court. However, Halle’s initial decision to leave the scene of the accident without saying anything (along with her alleged temper) made her a joke on late night talk shows, in magazines, and was what first fueled the ‘Halle Scary’ meme.
There used to be a time when it was all so easy for Breezy. He was the new “It” R&B musician. That all changed in February 2009, the night of the Grammy Awards. News of Chris’ arrest for beating Rihanna started off as rumors until they were confirmed as hard facts. The picture of a battered Rihanna has been seared into memories and lives in the annals of the Internet. Three years later, a Grammy win and comeback performance, and even reuniting with Rihanna on two songs, some people (including other celebrities) stay coming at Chris’s head. Will people ever move on?
In the ’90s, Brandy helped to create the new blueprint for young, black singers who wanted to branch out. She was the undisputed It-girl with TV shows, movies and endorsements under her belt. In 2002, while still at the top of her game, she announced that she’s gotten married. She was later put on blast by her ex, Robert Smith, who denied that they ever jumped the broom. The girl who played Mo-to-the, E-to-the, wasn’t a teen mother, but by giving birth in her early 20s, it seemed she was worried about her image and still wanted to preserve her “good girl” mystique for her fans. After Smith outed their union or lack thereof, she said she looked at their “marriage” as a spiritual union and true commitment.
Kanye’s always been cocky and outspoken. Those qualities, while not necessarily endearing, drew fans to him. But the 2009 MTV VMA’s transformed him from anti-hero to outright villain. He interrupted Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech and the backlash still has a pulse today with some who loathe him as if they really know him. Some who have done worse still don’t catch as much hell.
King James finally has his NBA championship ring on the way. For him, it was a celebration nine seasons in the making and all it took was hard work and dumping the city of Cleveland on national TV. ‘The Decision” turned James into the J.R. Ewing of the league as fans reveled in their disgust for him. He’s the pride and joy of Miami today, and some have moved on, but his choice to do a primetime broadcast to announce his move still casts a shadow over his victory for some. Some people are just never going to let it go and will keep throwing rocks at the throne until James and his talents deliver all those eight rings he promised, but it seems that he’s on his way to hush the haters once and for all.
Mary J. Blige
Mary sang “Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing wrapped up in a tasty flour tortilla” with so much passion in that random Burger King commercial, you would have thought it was a Negro spiritual. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul got a pass for being tired of people trying to “understand estimate my intelligents” via Twitter, but sanging like it’s Sunday over some chicken in 2012 was deemed unacceptable. There just aren’t enough times that one can keep What’s the 411? on repeat to erase “What’s in the new chicken wraps?” from the memory.
The R&B Prince basked in the glow of his Confessions peak: fame, money and nonstop success. It was always going to be a challenge sustaining that momentum for his next album but Usher did himself no favors during the Here I Stand era when he married Tameka Foster. He fired his momma as his manager, went against his mother and married a woman she didn’t approve of and went hard in the paint against his fans who questioned his relationship. He tried to get websites shut down and blasted folks on MTV’s “TRL.” And after that, this same fool turned around and realized he wanted a divorce, writing the very tacky “Papers” track to prove it. Rude, much?
The Pied Piper of R&B had to pay when a videotape surfaced of him apparently having sex with an underage girl. The case against him went to trial and he was able to prevail in the court of law, however, the court of public opinion found him guilty. They believed their eyes. There are few who can write a song as good as the “Rra,” but he can’t write off the serious allegations which have haunted him around the peak of his career and ever since.
Do you associate these situations with these celebs when you think of them?Stephanie Guerilus is a multimedia journalist and published author. Follow her at @qsteph.
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