When you hear the name Kobe Bryant, you remember him as an icon in the basketball sport, achieving massive success on and off the court. He became one of the NBA’s most popular players and the face of the Lakers during his career.
He won a record four NBA All-Star Game MVP awards. He was the overall league MVP in 2008, a two-time NBA scoring champion, and 12 All-Defensive selections.
But on January 26th, 2020, the death of Kobe Byrant in a helicopter crash along with his daughter, shocked the world.
Let us take a close look at the fantastic success story of Kobe Byrant including his early years, rise to stardom, and incredible accomplishments.
Kobe Bryant’s early life
Kobe Bryant fully known as Kobe Bean Bryant was born on Aug. 23, 1978, in Philadelphia to Joe and Pamela Bryant. He was the youngest of three siblings and the only son born to his parents. His older siblings are Sharia and Shaya.
His parents were professional athletes and his father Joe Bryant played professional basketball for several years. He would often go to his father’s games and watch him play. Therefore from a young age, Kobe showed a passion for basketball games.
When he was just six years old, he started playing basketball and began to develop his skills and soon became one of the best players in his age group. He also grew up playing alongside full-grown men in his father’s circle.
Kobe’s father left the NBA and moved his family to Rieti in Italy to continue playing professional basketball.
On Sundays, Kobe would watch his dad play for his new Italian team. He would help out by mopping the sweat off the court during intervals. When he cleaned, he cut his first sponsorship deal with the owner of Joe’s second club in Italy, Olimpia Pistoia, to wear a sweatshirt branded with their business.
Once he wiped down the court, he often picked up the basketball and dazzled the crowd. He use to mimic what he watched, like practicing his jumper, dribbling between his legs, and heaving shots from too far out. He leaves the court only when the game officials kick him off.
Until he was a teen, Kobe Bryant led a relatively sheltered life.
Kobe Bryant in high school
In 1991, his family returned to Philadelphia. Kobe Bryant enrolled at ‘Lower Merion High School.’ located in Ardmore, Philadelphia. By the time Bryant got to high school, he was a basketball phenom ready to enter the NBA immediately upon graduation.
His participation in basketball won the ‘Lower Merion High School’ state championship after 53 years. He continued to improve as a player and drew the attention of some of the top college basketball programs in the country.
During a spectacular high school career at Lower Merion High School, Bryant earned national recognition. Becoming the first freshman in decades to start for Lower Merion’s varsity team, he finished with a 4-20 record.
During his junior year, he was named Pennsylvania Player of the Year, averaging 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. His name attracted the attention of college recruiters in the process.
Kobe Bryant NBA
He decided to forgo college and declare for the NBA draft and was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996.
He didn’t have a successful year. Just one year with the hornets, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Then he truly began to shine and developed into one of the best players in the league.
He helped lead the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. Throughout Kobe Bryant’s career, he continued to play at an extremely high level and became one of the most popular players in the world.
He scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006 which is still the second-highest single-game scoring total in NBA history. He went on to win two more NBA championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.
Kobe Bryant’s achievements in Basketball
During the 1996 to 1997 NBA season, Kobe Bryant played well and created a record to become the youngest player ever to play in an NBA game.
In February 1997 he won the “Slam Dunk Contest” during the all-star weekend registering his name as the youngest player to win this championship.
In 1999, he excelled as a shooting guard in the league and played with the ‘All-Star,’ ‘All-NBA,’ and ‘All-Defensive’ teams with the help of his coach Phil Jackson. This popular basketball player led his team to victory and they became champions from 2000 to 2002.
From 2005 to 2006, the NBA season was a revival for the Lakers after coming across losses. The team was back in playoffs and in January 2006, Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a game against the ‘Toronto Raptors.’ He also scored well in the following four games and became the first player to score 45 points or more in four consecutive games.
In the 2006-07 ‘NBA’ season, he performed well and got selected to the ‘All-Star Game’ for the ninth time. He also got the ‘All-Star Game MVP Trophy’ for the second time.
In December 2007, Kobe created the record for being the youngest player to reach 20000 points but later LeBron James broke the record.
Kobe represented the ‘U.S. men’s national basketball team’ and won a gold medal at the ‘Olympics.’ Also, he was bestowed with the ‘NBA Most Valuable Player’ award.
During the 2008-09 ‘NBA’ season, Bryant’s performance won him ‘All-Star Game’ as a starter. Also, he was made the ‘Western Conference Player of the Month’ for December and January.
At the 2009 ‘NBA Finals’ The ‘Lakers’ registered a win and Kobe won his first ‘NBA Final MVP trophy. In the 2009-10 ‘NBA’ season, he played exceptionally well and was able to break Jerry West’s record which made him become the all-time leading scorer in the history of the ‘Los Angeles Lakers team. The 2010 ‘NBA Finals’ was also won by his team ‘The Lakers’ and this talented player once again received the ‘NBA Finals MVP Award.’
Kobe Bryant won a gold medal in the ‘2012 Summer Olympics,’. He has been named the top ‘NBA’ player of the 2000s by the ‘Sporting News’ and ‘TNT.’ He reached 30,000 career points in December 2012 and became the first player in ‘NBA’ history to reach this milestone.
Bryant returned to the 2013-14 season after facing severe injuries. But he did not make it to the playoffs. He faced severe injuries during the 2014-15 season as well. He returned to his 20th season with the ‘Lakers,’ surpassing John Stockton’s record for most seasons with the same team.
At the age of 37, Kobe Bryant became the oldest player to score 60 or more points in a game. Kobe Bryant announced his retirement through ‘Player’s Tribune’ in a poem titled ‘Dear Basketball,’ expressing his love for the sport since his childhood on November 29th, 2015.
He also expressed his love for his favorite team ‘The Lakers’ and thanked his fans who helped him grow alongside the sport.
Kobe Bryant’s personal life
Kobe Bryant was not just a legendary basketball player but was also a beloved husband and father. He was first and foremost a family man.
When he was 20 years old, he met Vanessa during a music video shoot n 1999 but she was still in high school. When she turned 18, they got engaged and in April 2001, they got married.
Kobe’s parents did not approve of the marriage and did not attend the ceremony. They remained estranged from their son for years.
Kobe and Vanessa remained 100 percent committed to their family and they welcomed their eldest child Natalia in 2003. The couple would go on to have three more daughters Gianna, Bianka, and Capri.
Kobe’s daughters were his life and he often proudly posted pictures of his kids on Instagram and supported their interests.
Kobe Bryant off the court
Kobe Bryant not only achieved the on-court but also had extreme success the off-court. Some of the biggest companies in the world like Nike, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola, had endorsement deals with Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant also launched his own production company and investment firm. And in addition, he has written several books like children’s books and an autobiography. He is one of the most successful basketball players of all time and achieved massive success on and off the court.
His contribution to society
He was big on helping young people to achieve their goals. He became a national ambassador for After-School All-stars in 2007, a nonprofit organization that partners with schools to offer after-school programming for students from low-income families. He raised money for the organization’s Los Angeles chapter to serve 14,000 students from 38 schools.
Bryant helped kids suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Bryant visited over 200 kids battling life-threatening illnesses, through Make-a-wish-America, a nonprofit organization that creates life-changing wishes for youth with such illnesses.
Bryant worked with different organizations to raise money for cancer research and treatment. Also, he was a part of the Stand Up to Cancer telecast in 2012 which raised over $81 million for cancer research.
Also, he was a big supporter of women in sports. Bryant and his wife Vanessa donated $5,000 to help support the Roseville Basketball team in December 2019.
Kobe Bryant had earlier partnered with Nike and the LA Boys and Girls club to create a youth basketball league called The Mamba League. Later, he formed the Mamba Academy to provide kids with access to sports. He used the academy to offer athletic and lifestyle training to young athletes. The academy was also used as the training ground for his daughter’s basketball team.
The Kobe And Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation
Kobe Bryant with his wife Vanessa established the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation in 2011. The foundation partnered with the homeless youth drop-in center My Friends Places in the same year to increase awareness about the homeless problem and help them build self-sufficient lives.
Bryant used the KVBFF to help increase awareness of black history. He was among the milestone founders of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Kobe Bryant’s tragic death
On January 26, 2020, Bryant has been focused on getting his daughter Gianna and her teammates to the game in his private helicopter.
They were heading to Gianna’s basketball game at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. Not long after the takeoff, the helicopter crashed in foggy conditions.
The helicopter was given access to go north tracing Interstate 5 through Burbank and then to 101 westward. But it turned southeast just after 9:40 a.m. The vehicle climbed 2,300 feet before falling 1,085 feet into the hill and estimated that it missed clearing the hill by about 20 to 30 feet. Previously flying at a speed of 184 miles per hour, it fell at more than 4,000 feet per minute.
Both Kobe and his daughter died in the accident, shocking sports fans across America and around the world. Also, Bryant had been set to host Grammy Awards that very evening. But it became one of the first of countless tributes to him and his daughter.
As the news spread, disbelief and tributes poured out. In tribute to Bryant, The Los Angeles Airport, the Empire State Building, and the Burj Khalifa were all lit in purple and yellow, the Lakers’ colors.
Kobe Bryant is one of the most successful athletes in history who has achieved massive success on and off the court.
Kobe’s journey is filled with all of the amazing accomplishments he has achieved. His work ethic, dedication, and passion for the game are unmatched. Other than his accomplishments the on-court, he has done as much off-court helping a lot of people as he could. Although he is no more, his memories and achievements will be alive forever.
Kobe Bryant is a true icon, and his story is an inspiration to people all over the world.
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