Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna were killed alongside seven other people when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed in Calabasas, California on Sunday.
Following news of the accident, the Westworld actor tweeted: “What has happened is tragic. I am heartbroken for Kobe’s family. He was a sports hero. He was also a rapist. And all of these truths can exist simultaneously.”
In 2003, Bryant was charged with felony sexual assault after a 19-year-old accused him of raping her in a Colorado hotel room. The case was dismissed the following year after prosecutors said the accuser did not want to testify in court.
At the time, Bryant issued a public apology to the woman, in which he said he thought the encounter between them was “consensual”. A civil case ensued, and was settled in 2005 for an undisclosed amount.
In response to Wood’s tweet, many people have expressed outrage that the actor felt it appropriate to bring up the past sexual assault accusation in the hours after Bryant’s death, at a time when countless others were mourning the basketball player.
“I’m sorry but this was uncalled for,” one person wrote. “Many are mourning and you call him a name like that. It can wait. Three girls lost their dad and sister, a wife lost her husband and daughter and you’re directing attention away from that by tweeting what you tweeted.”
Fellow actor Kyla Pratt also criticised Wood, writing on Twitter: “Evan. We met as kids and I grew up in the same industry as you and have admired your work from afar these past few years. On camera and off. But this tweet? How f***ing dare you?”
Others pointed out that the charges against the late basketball star were dropped.
“Accusations are not evidence,” one person wrote.
On Monday, Wood followed up her original tweet with another post, in which she attempted to clarify her statement.
“Beloveds, this was not a condemnation or a celebration,” the 32-year-old wrote. “It was a reminder that everyone will have different feelings and there is room for us all to grieve together instead of fighting. Everyone has lost. Everyone will be triggered, so please show kindness and respect to all.”
While many of the responses to Wood’s tweet were critical, she also received messages of support.
“This is very thoughtful, and I wholeheartedly agree,” one person wrote. “People keep saying that this is the wrong time/you should wait. But there are women/survivors watching this happen, and they have grief, too. Should their grief/mixed feelings also take a back seat, again, to a man's legacy?”
Another follower thanked Wood for “being brave enough to say this”.
“I was too afraid of the backlash but can’t stop thinking about it,” they added.
Wood was not the only person to face criticism for acknowledging the allegations against the former Lakers player in the hours after his death. Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez was suspended after tweeting out a link to a 2016 Daily Beast article about the rape case.