Born in Philadelphia, PA, on August 23, 1978, Kobe was the only son of the former NBA player Joe ‘Jelly Bean’ Bryant and his wife, Pamela Cox Bryant. He gets his name after the famous Kobe beef.
Making NBA history
Being the third-youngest player in NBA history to begin his pro career, he won the Slam Dunk Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend in the Rookie Challenge in 1997. He was the youngest player in the history of the NBA to achieve this feat. In the same year, he also became the youngest NBA All-star starter ever.
The Numbers Game
In his 20-year career with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant donned only two jerseys – numbers 8 and 24. He switched numbers because the LA Lakers had traded Shaquille O’Neil in 2004 to Miami Heat. After his civil lawsuit in 2004, he chose number 24, as a symbol of his new beginning.
Outscoring Dallas Mavericks
His most memorable match was in December 2005 when the Lakers defeated the Dallas Mavericks with Kobe scoring a whopping 62 points through three quarters.
His best single-game performance was in the year 2006 when he dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors. Bryant later said that even he was stunned by his own accomplishment and was something that he just could not explain.
Portland Trail Blazers
In a 2007 game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center, Kobe came close to surpassing his career-high with 81 points that he had achieved over a year ago. This was his second-highest score in his overall career.
Making more history
In the 2007 game season, he scored 50 points against New Orleans, 50 against Minnesota, 60 against Memphis, and 65 against Portland. Although his score fell short of Wilt Chamberlain’s streak of seven 50 points performances in a row, Bryant’s game was magnificent.
Bryant had two Olympic gold medals — won in 2008 and 2012. He was also drafted as the final voice in the bid presentation for the 2028 Olympics and LA won that bid.
The final championship in Bryant’s career was in 2010, when the LA Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the finals. Bryant scored 23 points and shot 6-of-24 from the field earning the NBA championship and Finals MVP honors.
On December 17, 2013, during a match, Kobe suffered from a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his knee that put his career on hold for about six weeks. Though he was sidelined, his fans voted for him to star in his 16th All-Star Game.
Bryant ended his epic career in 2016. In his last game, Bryant dropped 60 points on 50 shots handing the Lakers a 101-96 win against Utah Jazz at Staple Center. The same night, he also broke Michael Jordan’s single-game field-game attempt record.
NBA All-Defensive Team
Kobe was selected for the NBA All-Defensive Team 12 times during his career making the first team 9 times. The NBA All-Defensive Team began in the 1968-69 season and is an annual NBA honor given to the best defense players during the regular season.
Teaming up with Shaquille O’Neal
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal will be linked forever as they won three NBA championships – 2000, 2001 and 2002, during the course of eight seasons when they played together for Los Angeles Lakers. O’Neal joined the Lakers in 1996 as a free agent, only weeks after the team welcomed Kobe in a draft day deal with the Charlotte Hornets.
In his 20-year career, Bryant won multiple MVP awards, was voted for the NBA All-Rookie Team, NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, Best NBA Player ESPY, BET Sportsman of the Year, NBA All-Defensive Team and more.
Most Christmas Day games
No other player in NBA history has played as many Christmas games as Kobe Bryant – 16 in all. His best Christmas Day performance was when the Lakers won against the Phoenix Suns in 2007 with 38 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Bryant announces his retirement
Bryant decided to bow out of the game in 2016. In a heartfelt poem, he wrote that he could not continue this obsessive love affair with the game and that while his mind and heart would continue to play forever, his body knows it is time to say goodbye.
Kobe was the only player in the history of the NBA to have two numbers retired by the same team. The jerseys were sent to the rafters in the Staples Center in December 2017 during the halftime ceremony of a Lakers-Warriors game.
Becomes ESPY Icon
In 2016, Bryant was awarded the ESPY’s Icon Award with co-recipients Abby Wambach and Peyton Manning. After accepting the award, the champion honored his fellow recipients for their achievements and their decision to retire but proceeded to declare his idea of doing things differently.
Marriage to Vanessa
He met his wife, Vanessa, in 1999, when he was just 21 and she was 17. They went on to marry in 2001 in Dana Point, Calabasas. Their marriage went through a rough patch in the year 2011 when Vanessa filed for divorce; however, the couple reconciled in 2013.
McDonalds signed a $10 million deal with Bryant in 2001 but cut ties with him in 2004. The basketball All-Star was also the ambassador for the Italian chocolate maker Ferrero and Coca-Cola’s Sprite. He later endorsed their Vitaminwater in 2008. He was also the face of Spalding.
$100 million VC firm
In 2013, Bryant co-founded a firm with Web.com founder Jeff Stibel. The company aimed at providing strategy, capital, and support to businesses. As of 2019, the company had access to more than $2 billion in resources, and around a third of the 19 companies were worth more than $1 billion.
In order to take control of his business affairs, Bryant had started Kobe Inc. in 2013. In 2014, he purchased a building worth $5.8 million in Newport beach, which would become the headquarters of his company.
Kobe Studios which was founded in early 2013 was later renamed to Granity Studios. His Oscar-winning short film Dear Basketball was produced by the same.
Mamba Sports Academy
Bryant launched the joint business venture Mamba Sports Academy that encourages men, women, and youth to come forward and unlock their full potential by providing them with a platform to educate them. It enlists diverse experts to cater to the needs of amateurs and elite athletes.
Dear Basketball was not just another ordinary run-of-the-mill short film. With animator Glen Keane and the Oscar-winning composer John Williams, the movie depicts Bryant as a young boy who dreamt of becoming a basketball player.
The $40 million contract with Nike was signed back in 2003 and the brand celebrates “Mamba Day” on April 13th. On this day, Nike releases a series of limited-edition sneakers. As of August 2018, Bryant’s endorsement with Nike had earned him $13 million in sneaker sales.
The Mamba Mentality
On October 23, 2018, Bryant dropped his biography “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play.” The book features many stories and experiences that helped him shape his all-star career. Apart from the content, the book features many photographs by Andrew Bernstein, each carefully showcasing the bond between the two.
Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation
Back in 2007, Bryant started the VIVO foundation that would later come to be known as the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. The foundation works to help the homeless and was created to help eradicate youth homelessness in Los Angeles.
Mamba League Launches
In line with his Black Mamba brand, the former LA Laker started a Mamba league with the help of Nike and the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club. The idea of this co-ed league was to teach kids the fundamentals of basketball.
For 20 years, Kobe Bryant was part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and had granted more than 200 wishes.
Black Mamba helps in fight against cancer
One of his philanthropic moves was raising awareness and money for cancer research and medical expenses. He signed up for the Annual Stand Up for Cancer telecast event in 2012 and the hour-long simulcast event raised an $81 million, all of which was to be used for cancer research.
Kobe’s net worth was anywhere from $600 to $700 million. In his 20-year NBA career, Bryant made more than $323 million in salary and approximately $350 million from brand endorsements. When Bryant retired in 2016, he was the highest-paid athlete in the history of team sports.
High school years
He lived in Italy for a while, after his father retired and returned to Philadelphia in 1991 only to lead his high school team to the state championship for four years in a row. A good student with excellent SAT scores, he decided to play basketball professionally and headed to the NBA.
Hosted in New York in 1998, the All-Star Game saw Kobe as the youngest all-star in NBA history. Legend Michael Jordan, who scored 23 points and was named the MVP, said that his game was inspired by the competition with Kobe.
Bryant debuted in the 1996-97 season, and managed to score a total of 33,643 regular-season points, putting him in the fourth position on the all-time scoring list led by Abdul Jabbar, Karl Malone and LeBron James. At the end of the year 2012, Bryant became the youngest player in the history of the NBA to reach 30,000 points. He ranks 4th with a score of 5,640 points in NBA Playoffs.
48,637 recorded minutes played
In his 20-year career that started with the 1996-97 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant was recorded to have played for 48, 637 minutes. This was until now the 8th highest number of minutes in the NBA history.
2nd longest one-club career
Kobe remained loyal to the Lakers for 20 seasons beginning from 1996-97 right up to when he retired.
The Bryant Family
The couple had four daughters. Natalia Diamante Bryant, their first, was born in 2003, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant “Gigi” or “Mambacita” was born in 2006, Bianka Bella Bryant, was born in 2016 and their last child, Capri Kobe Bryant, was born in 2019.
The Kobe Bryant China Fund
In 2009, he founded the Kobe Bryant China Fund by donating a whopping $732,000 or 5 million Yuan. The fund was established with the aim of raising money for cultural and sporting events throughout the Republic of China.