Honoring the life and times of Kobe Bryant
25th February, 2020
Netflix justjared.com
Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with one team, but the athlete did a lot more than play shooting guard for the LA Lakers. He was a father, a coach, a creator, and an inspirational figure who stood for what he believed in. His strong mentality and personality combined with his generous heart touched the lives of many who now mourn his inopportune and premature demise. With this intimate look at his life, his infectious personality, and his immaculate generosity, we pay our respects to the legacy left behind.
Life as a child www.thesun.co.uk
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Life as a child
Kobe Bean Bryant, born in Philadelphia on August 23, 1978, was the son of former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant and nephew of basketball player John Arthur "Chubby" Cox III. He was named after the famous Kobe beef, while his middle name Bean, was taken from his father’s moniker “Jellybean”. He began playing basketball when he was only 3 years old. The Los Angeles Lakers had been his beloved team since childhood. Joe Bryant retired from the NBA when Kobe was six years old and relocated the family to Italy, where he continued to play basketball in an Italian league. While growing up in Italy, Kobe played both basketball and soccer.
High school life www.pennlive.com
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High school life
Bryant joined the Lower Merion High School basketball team when his family returned to Philadelphia in 1991. Bryant led his team to the state championship for four years in a row and averaged 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. He was chosen as the Pennsylvania Player of the Year, attracting attention from major college recruiters from all around the state. Although he boasted good grades and excellent SAT scores, he decided to play basketball professionally right after high school and headed to the NBA. He was selected by the Charlotte Hornets and was the 13th overall pick of the 1996 NBA draft. The Hornets soon traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Third-youngest player in NBA history edition.cnn.com
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Third-youngest player in NBA history
After excelling in the game in high school, Bryant immediately decided to make his career in basketball. This led to him becoming the third-youngest player in NBA history to begin his pro career. In 1997, he participated in the Rookie Challenge and won the Slam Dunk Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend. This made him the youngest player in the history of the NBA to achieve this feat. In Game 5 of the round of the playoffs against Utah Jazz in 1997, Bryant shot four airballs when the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated. He was the runner-up for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award and also became the youngest NBA All-star starter in the NBA history.
A classic All-Star debut www.nba.com
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A classic All-Star debut
The 1998 All-Star Game held in Madison Square Garden in New York was dominated by the Lakers roster, especially Bryant. Although popular Lakers supporters like Magic Johnson and Jack Nicholson were present at the sidelines, Bryant gained the most attention. It was a big night for him since he surpassed Magic Johnson as the youngest starter in All-Star history. Even though Bryant played the game only for 22 minutes, he managed to score 18 points. He put on a single-man dunk contest in the game, including throwing down a 360 off the outlet pass from Shaquille O’Neal. Micheal Jordan, who won the MVP award in 1998 All-Star game, said that his achievement stemmed from competition with Bryant.
Outscored the Mavericks in three quarters static01.nyt.com
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Outscored the Mavericks in three quarters
Bryant’s fans will never forget the December 2005 game against the Dallas Mavericks, in which he scored a whopping 62 points in the first three quarters. He outplayed the opponents by scoring his last three-pointer in the remaining 4.4 seconds of the third quarter. The Mavericks managed to score 61 points. Looking ahead in the year 2013, Mavericks’s owner Mark Cuban suggested the Lakers use their amnesty clause on Bryant. This would have made him a free agent and saved the Lakers millions of dollars in salary.  In the same year, when Bryant scored 38 points, defeating Mavericks 103-99, he posted on Twitter “Amnesty THAT” as a retort to the remarks made by Cuban.
81 points in a single game www.discoverlosangeles.com
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81 points in a single game
Bryant's best single-game performance in his NBA career was in 2006 when he scored an astonishing 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. Bryant finished 81 points on 28-of-46 shooting, which included 18-of-20 from the foul line and 7-of-13 from the 3-point range. He outscored the Raptors as the Lakers scored a 122-104 comeback victory at home. Bryant later said that even he was stunned by his own accomplishment, and it was something that he just couldn’t explain. He came very close to the legend Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 100 points against the New York Knicks in 1962. Post this game, Bryant was the only player to score more than 80 points in a single game.
Four consecutive 50-point games www.gettyimages.in
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Four consecutive 50-point games
This was a part of the stretch of Bryant’s career wherein he was absolutely unstoppable and took his game to new heights. In 2007, he scored 50 points against the New Orleans Pelicans, 50 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, 60 against the Memphis Grizzlies, and 65 against the Portland Trail Blazers, which contributed to a four-game average of more than 56 points per game. Although his score fell short of Wilt Chamberlain’s exceptional streak of seven 50-point performances in a row, Bryant’s game was magnificent nonetheless. Bryant's streak was broken in the following game where he was able to score 43 points. Throughout his career, Bryant achieved a total of 25 50-point games, while Chamberlain achieved this 118 times.
Bryant in the Olympics www.wfdd.org
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Bryant in the Olympics
Bryant always ensured that he displays his best performance, not just at the NBA but also at the Olympics. He has led team USA to win two Olympic gold medals: the first one was in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the other in the 2012 London Olympics; both finals matches were against Spain. Post-retirement, the star did not lose his passion for the game. You could also find him at Olympic events cheering for the players and enjoying his time on the other side. Kobe was also drafted as the final voice of the bid for holding the next Olympics in the U.S.A. The members of the olympic committee later unanimously voted for LA to host the 2028 Olympics.
Defeating the Celtics in Game 7 www.espn.com
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Defeating the Celtics in Game 7
The final championship in Bryant’s career came in 2010 when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7. It was a gritty game, and it surely seemed like the Lakers would repeat the 2008 performance since they were falling behind by 13 points in the third quarter. The Celtics constantly kept double-teaming Bryant, but he managed to score 23 points and shot 6-of-24 from the field. That night, he earned the NBA championship and Finals MVP honors after averaging 28.6 points in the series and grabbing 15 rebounds in Game 7. After winning the game, Kobe stood on the scorer’s table, celebrating his victory for the fifth and final time.
His final game www.playitusa.com
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His final game
After a 20-season-long legendary NBA career, Kobe Bryant’s last game was in 2016 against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center. He was 37 years old then and made sure that people remember his last game that night. Displaying an extraordinary performance by scoring 60 points on 50 shots, Bryant ensured victory for the Lakers with a final score of 101-96. This was Bryant’s sixth 60-point game, which left LeBron James startled. Remarking his spectacular game, James tweeted, “UNBELIEVABLE MAN,” with the hashtag MambaDay. Bryant’s staggering 60-point score was also the highest-scoring game in the NBA all season. The same night, he also broke Micheal Jordan’s single-game field-game attempt record.
Selected 12 times for the NBA All-Defensive Team www.hollywoodreporter.com
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Selected 12 times for the NBA All-Defensive Team
Bryant was selected for the NBA All-Defensive Team 12 times during his career. He made the first team 9 times, out of which 8 were in the last 12 seasons. Excluding Bryant, only three players in NBA history have been selected this many times until now. They include Micheal Jordan, Kevin Garnett, and Gary Payton. For those not familiar, the NBA All-Defensive Team began in the 1968-69 season and is an annual NBA honor given to the best defensive players during the regular season. The team usually comprises 10 players in two five-man lineups. Voting for the defensive team is conducted by a group of more than 100 writers and broadcasters.
Won three championships with Shaq lebronwire.usatoday.com
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Won three championships with Shaq
The deadly duo of Shaq and Kobe drove the Lakers to win three NBA championships during their time together on the Lakers. Cooperatively, they bagged the championship for the Lakers consecutively in the years 2000, 2001, and 2002. After hearing about his demise, Shaqullie wrote on Twitter that he is out of words to express the pain he is going with Kobe’s and his niece Gigi’s death. He also mentioned that Bryant’s daughter Gigi (who died along with Bryant in the crash) was born on the same day as his youngest daughter Me’ Arah. Shaquille joined the Lakers in 1996 as a free agent, only weeks after the team welcomed Bryant in a draft day deal with the Charlotte Hornets.
Total career points www.highsnobiety.com
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Total career points
Bryant made his debut in the 1996-97 season and managed to score a total of 33,643 regular-season points. This score put him in the fourth position on the all-time scoring list led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38,887 points, Karl Malone with 36,928 points, and LeBron James with 33,746 points at the time of writing. LeBron took over Bryant’s position while playing for the Lakers against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, 25th January 2020. At the end of 2012, Bryant became the youngest player in the history of the NBA to reach 30,000 points while playing against the New Orleans Hornets who are now known as the New Orleans Pelicans.
Recorded minutes played www.infobae.com
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Recorded minutes played
Bryant is recorded to have played for a total of 48,637 minutes in his 20-year-long career. This is currently the 8th highest number of recorded minutes in NBA history. The leaderboard for the records for minutes played is currently led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 57,446 points. In his professional career, Kareem played 20 seasons in the NBA with Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. Kareem is followed by Karl Malone, who played for 54,852 minutes, and Dirk Nowitzki with 51,368 minutes recorded. The 35-year-old LeBron James is presently the only active player in the top 10 of the leaderboard with a record of 47,909 minutes and might catch up Bryant soon.
Second-longest one-club career www.stacksmag.net
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Second-longest one-club career
From being the 13th overall pick in 1996 to his final game in 2016, Bryant had one of the most iconic careers in NBA history. He remained loyal to the Lakers for 20 seasons, beginning from 1996-97, second only to the legendary Dirk Nowitzki, who played an unbelievable 21 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks. Nowitzki was chosen as the 9th pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1998 draft but was immediately traded to Dallas Mavericks. After learning about the demise of Bryant, Nowitzki wrote on Twitter that he reminisces the days when he used to come home after a game to watch Kobe dominate the game in the fourth quarter.
Announcing his retirement www.saratogian.com
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Announcing his retirement
Bryant, who contributed to winning the Lakers five championship titles, decided to bow out of the game in 2016. In a heartfelt poem that was shared via The Players Tribunal on 30th November 2015, he spoke about his intense love towards the game. While writing about his obsessive love affair with the sport, he gave some insight into how his journey began at the age of six. He mentioned that although his mind and heart can continue to play basketball forever, his body knows it is time to say goodbye. He also specified that he had come to terms with it. While the announcement was made mid-season, the star athlete completed the 2015-2016 season.
Retired jersey numbers theblast.com
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Retired jersey numbers
Kobe Bryant made history by becoming the only player in the history of the NBA to have two jersey numbers retired by the same team. The basketball legend began his NBA career playing for the Lakers and wore the number 8 jersey. He later switched it with the number 24 jersey for his 2006-07 season with the Lakers. Bryant mentioned how the number 8 described his journey of proving himself on the court and the number 24 signified his growth. The jerseys were sent to the rafters in the Staples Center in December of 2017 during the halftime ceremony of a Lakers-Warriors game. The entire Bryant family attended the ceremony.
Marrying Vanessa www.news.com.au
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Marrying Vanessa
Soon after rising to fame in his career, Bryant met his wife Vanessa in 1999. At that time, he was 21 and Vanessa was only 17. Their romance was a whirlwind and the couple was engaged six months into their relationship. At the time of the engagement, Vanessa was still a senior in high school. Bryant’s parents did not approve of their wedding and chose not to attend the ceremony. The couple went on to marry in 2001 in Dana Point, Calabasas. Although their marriage went through a rough patch in 2011 when Vanessa filed for divorce, the couple reconciled in 2013 and shared the news with the world via social media.
His family ipix.one
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His family
Bryant and Vanessa had four daughters. Their first child Natalia Diamante Bryant was born in 2003 and is now 17. Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant was 13 when she passed away on the 26th of January, 2020 in the helicopter crash with Bryant. Gianna was also known as “Gigi” or “Mambacita” by her father and was nicknamed as such as she chose to follow her father on the court. Bianka Bella Bryant was born 10 years after Gianna in 2016 and is now 3. She often featured on Bryant’s social media. Their last child Capri Kobe Bryant was named after the basketball star himself. She was born in 2019 and is only 7 months old now.
Releasing The Mamba Mentality www.amazon.in
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Releasing The Mamba Mentality
Bryant’s reputation took a major hit after he was charged with sexual assault in 2003. To separate his life on and off the court, he created an alter ego Black Mamba, which was inspired by the 2003 movie Kill Bill. Post-retirement, Bryant decided to share his in-depth understanding of the game with future stars and diehard fans. On October 23, 2018, Bryant dropped his biography The Mamba Mentality: How I Play that featured stories and experiences that helped him shape his career. It also contains his preparation for a game, a detailed breakdown of his moves, his methods to study opponents and his passion that helped him through the pain of his numerous injuries.
Bryant’s collaboration with Nike sneakhype.com
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Bryant’s collaboration with Nike
While Bryant has major endorsements throughout his career, the most memorable one was his collaboration with Nike. The $40 million contract was signed in 2003 and so far has helped both sides make a lot of money. The brand celebrates Mamba day every year on August 24th, and this date was chosen on the basis of his jersey numbers  8 and 24. On this day, we witness a series of limited-edition sneakers releases. As of August 2019, Bryant’s endorsement with Nike earned him $16 million in sneaker sales. The major chunk of the sales lies in China, where he remains wildly popular. To commemorate his untimely passing, members of the NBA stepped out in his sneakers.
Other major endorsements www.bloomberg.com
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Other major endorsements
Throughout his career, Bryant collaborated with several big brands. McDonald’s signed a $10 million deal with him in 2001, but the fast-food company cut ties with him in the year 2004, on account of the sexual allegations. He was also the brand ambassador for Italian chocolate maker Ferrero and Coca-Cola’s brand Sprite. Both the brands decided to sever their ties in the aftermath of allegations. Coca-Cola later bought him back on board to endorse their brand vitaminwater® in 2008. He was also the face of Spalding. The deal was a no-brainer, a basketball pro endorsing a sports equipment company. He also created an exclusive line of basketballs that were signed by him.
Co-founded a VC firm www.benzinga.com
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Co-founded a VC firm
The influence of the 5-time championship title holder reached way beyond the world of basketball. In 2013, Bryant co-founded a venture capital firm with a serial entrepreneur Jeff Stibel. The company aimed at providing strategy, capital, and support to businesses in various domains. From technology to media and stretching across to data, the firm dabbles in all popular areas. As of 2019, the company had access to more than $2 billion in resources under management. And around a third of the 19 companies in their portfolio were worth more than $1 billion. The company kept its relation with Bryant under wraps for the first five years because they wanted the work to speak for itself.
The establishment of Kobe Inc. www.sportsgossip.com
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The establishment of Kobe Inc.
To take control of his business affairs, Bryant started his own company Kobe Inc. in 2013. In 2014, he purchased a building worth $5.8 million in Newport beach, which became the headquarters of the company. The aim of the firm was to invest and develop brands that would change the way the world perceived the sports industry. Their very first investment was buying a 10% stake in the BODYARMOR sports drink. This initial 10% investment amounted to $6 million, which later grew to $200 million in 2018 after Coca-Cola bought in a minority stake. The majority of the investments made by Kobe Inc. proved fruitful, both in terms of monetary funds and cultural footprint.
Bryant's contribution to Media Production www.factornueve.com
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Bryant's contribution to Media Production
Kobe Bryant was not a new face in the entertainment industry. He also dabbled in rap with his rap CHEIZAW, which was signed on to Sony Records. These efforts led the athlete to found Kobe Studios in early 2013, which was later renamed to Granity Studios. The multimedia company has undertaken many projects ranging from podcasts to books and television to film projects. One of their major projects is the ESPN+ series Detail. The series analyzes the performance of pro athletes and was co-hosted by Bryant. Aside from his hosting duties, he was also a writer and executive producer on the show. His Oscar-winning Dear Basketball movie was produced by Granity Studios.
Established the Mamba Sports Academy www.dailymail.co.uk
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Established the Mamba Sports Academy
Bryant strongly believed that sport has the ability to mold young minds and give people a platform to push their bodies to peak performance. With this in mind, he launched the joint business venture Mamba Sports Academy along with Sports Academy CEO Chad Faulkner. It encourages men, women, and youth to come forward and unlock their full potential by providing them with a platform that activates and educates them. The academy enlists diverse experts to cater to the needs of amateurs and elite athletes. It functions under three divisions, each catering to different needs of the athlete. It has sport-specific physical training academies, sports-focused venture labs, and a charitable foundation that goes by the name The Mamba Sports Foundation.
His net worth www.keepfighting.com.tw
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His net worth
At the time of his death, Bryant’s net worth was calculated to be anywhere between $600 and $700 million. In his 20-season-long career in the NBA, Bryant earned more than $320 million in salary and around $350 million from brand endorsements. When Bryant retired in 2016, he was the 10th-highest-paid athlete in the history of team sports. In the last six seasons of his career, his earnings with the Los Angeles Lakers were the highest in the NBA. He owned three houses in Orange County, California, which were estimated to be worth $18.8 million in 2012. One of those houses was sold a couple of years ago for $6.1 million.
The inception of his foundation www.regionalobala.si
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The inception of his foundation
Back in 2007, Bryant created the VIVO foundation. This is now known as the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. The charity initiative was created with one goal in mind - help eradicate the youth homelessness in Los Angeles. It is completely dedicated to uplifting families and youth in need - both locally and internationally. In December 2010, former US president Barack Obama joined the champion in making care packages for the homeless. The foundation also provides international scholarships for the Kobe Bryant Basketball Academy that trains athletes between the age of 8 to 18. The academy is an annual summer camp that is run by Bryant himself. The foundation also operates the Mamba FC in Orange County.
Launched the Kobe Bryant China Fund www.thedailybeast.com
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Launched the Kobe Bryant China Fund
During the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Bryant gained a hardcore fan following that, to this day, stays loyal. The whole of China liked him so much that he was named a cultural ambassador to the country and looked to as a charitable diplomat. In fact, in 2009, Bryant founded the Kobe Bryant China Fund by donating a whopping $5 million yuan. The fund was established with the aim of raising money for cultural and sporting events throughout the republic. He made use of the Kobe Bryant China Fund to provide the youth of America with opportunities to learn Mandarin. With this, he also wanted Americans to learn about the culture and traditions of the Chinese people