The verdict is in and it's a slam dunk for Kobe Bryant.
Now, the basketball star can only hope a Colorado jury will cast its vote as favorably as the Teen Choice panel that chose him as its Favorite Male Athlete.
Bryant and his missus, Vanessa, were surprise guests at the Teen Choice Awards taped Saturday night at Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheater, where he claimed his trophy, a multicolored surfboard, for Choice Male Athlete and worked the crowds to repair his previously squeaky-clean rep.
Last month, Bryant was tagged with another label, potential rapist, when a 19-year-old hotel worker accused the 24-year-old of sexually assaulting her June 30 at a Colorado resort. A penitent Bryant 'fessed up to having sex with the woman but said it was consensual. He's free on $25,000 bond.
This weekend the shooting guard played to a supportive crowd, which cheered as Bryant waved to fans on the red carpet and then chanted his name as he took his seat near the Amphitheater's stage. The reaction was also favorable when he kissed the bejeweled hand of his wife, Vanessa, who was reportedly sporting the $4.5 million make-good bauble Bryant bought after he was caught messing around.
Accepting his award to a standing ovation, Bryant addressed his legal situation by telling the audience, "We've been flying through some dark clouds lately, but soon the sun is going to rise and shine again."
However, TV viewers watching the shindig later this week won't get to see the L.A. Laker speak because the media was barred from recording his acceptance speech.
That hasn't stopped several news outlets from publishing snippets of Bryant's address, which concluded with a quote paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere." Bryant then held his fist in the air.
It's the athlete's fourth win in five years--this year he was competing against Yankee Derek Jeter, skateboarder Tony Hawk and surfer Kelly Slater. The L.A. Lakers are the only professional sports team to win this award. (Teammate Shaquille O'Neal won in 2001.)
Fans nominated their favorite celebrities online and through Teen People magazine. Winners were then determined by a panel from AOL, Teen People and Fox, who chose from the top four votes in each category, which included picks such as Choice Male Hottie and Choice Movie Villain. Bryant's surprise appearance upstaged wins by other A-listers, including Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Justin Timberlake, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ashton Kutcher, who won a whopping four trophies, including Choice Male Hottie.
It was a rare public appearance for Bryant and his wife, who attended the ESPY awards July 16, but have largely avoided the spotlight since the scandal erupted last month.
Already, commercial sponsors have started shying away from the embattled b-baller. Nutella, makers of a chocolate hazelnut spread, have discontinued Kobe's campaign five months before his contract expires, reports the New York Post. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has also stopped running its Sprite ads with Bryant. Both companies claim the decision to nix the commercials is unrelated to the sports star's legal woes.
The Teen Choice Awards ceremony will be broadcast August 6, the same day Kobe is due in court for a preliminary hearing on charges of felony sexual assault.
While TV crews were kept from recording his acceptance speech at the awards show, the Eagle County, Colorado, arraignment will be broadcast live Wednesday on several networks, including E!, which begins its coverage at 3 p.m. PT.
At the hearing, Bryant will be advised of the sexual assault charges against him and the possible penalty should he be found guilty--a maximum sentence of life in prison. The judge is then likely to schedule a further preliminary hearing, during which he'll determine whether there is enough evidence to require a trial in state district court.
Here's the complete list of Teen Choice winners:
MOVIES Choice Movie, Drama: The Matrix: Reloaded Choice Movie Actor, Comedy: Jim Carrey, Bruce Almighty Choice Movie Actress, Comedy : Queen Latifah, Bringing Down the House Choice Movie Villian: Colin Farrell, Daredevil Choice Movie Hissy Fit : Adam Sandler, Anger Management Choice Breakout Female Movie Star: Hilary Duff, The Lizzie McGuire Movie TELEVISION Choice TV Drama: 7th Heaven Choice TV Breakout Show: 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter Choice TV Actor, Comedy: Ashton Kutcher, That '70s Show Choice TV Actor, Drama: David Gallagher, 7th Heaven Choice TV Actress, Drama: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Choice TV Sidekick: Wilmer Valderrama, That '70s Show Breakout Male TV Star: George Stults, 7th Heaven Breakout Female TV Star: Kaley Cuoco, 8 Simple Rules... Choice TV Reality: American Idol Choice Reality/Variety Host : Ashton Kutcher, Punk'd Choice TV Reality Babe: Paul Abdul, American Idol Choice TV Reality Hunk: Ashton Kutcher, Punk'd Choice Greatest TV Reality Moment: Justin Timberlake's tax repossession, Punk'd Choice Grossest TV Reality Moment: Eating squid guts, Fear Factor Choice Scariest Reality Moment: Ruben in bottom two, American Idol MUSIC Choice Music Female Artist: Kelly Clarkson Choice Music Rock Track: "Bring Me To Life," Evanescence ADDITIONAL AWARDS Choice Male Hottie: Ashton Kutcher Choice Male Athlete: Kobe Bryant Choice Comedian: Jim Carrey Choice Male Fashion Icon: Ryan Seacrest