January 2020, the whole world is stunned by the tragic news: Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers died in a helicopter crash on a hillside near Calabasas, California, close to where Kobe Bryant was living. The terrible news, as painful as it is, awakes the souvenir of this extraordinary character. A man who's loved all over the world for his commitment, positive attitude, his mindset and philosophy, and inspiring millions of people through basketball. Who was Kobe Bryant? From his childhood to the birth of a worldwide legend, passing by his major obstacles and challenges, his lovely family, the tragedy and his philosophy, let's pay tribute to the legendary Black Mamba.
Kobe Bryant's Early Life
Kobe Bryant was born on August 23, 1978, in Philadelphia. He was the third child and unique son of Joe Bryant, a former Philadelphia player and Pamela Cox Bryant. At that time, his father was playing for the NBA and Kobe jumped into basketball since he was three. Of course, the Lakers were his favorite!
When Kobe was six, his dad decided to retire from the NBA and pursue his career in Italy. "In order to play like he wanted to play, he understood he would have to make this transition and move across the Atlantic.", said Kobe. When Kobe was six, the whole family moved to Italy and followed John "Chubby" Box wherever he was playing. Kobe Bryant's passion started. He was following his dad from a game to another, excited to watch and get involved in any ways, such as being the ball boy or cleaning every little drop of sweat on the playground. In the document Kobe Bryant's Muse, he reveals that if his childhood has been constantly in movement, bouncing from a city to another, following his dad's career, the game has been the only constant thing, his only refuge, "his source of comfort".
13 years old, Kobe and the Bryant's family came back to the U.S. in Philadelphia. Alone, barely speaking english, sad of leaving Italy, feeling angry. Once again, his ball was his way-out, the place where he could loose himself completely, letting his game speaking for himself.
Kobe Bryant's Breathtaking Career
This final movement from Italy to the U.S and this feeling of being lonely and misunderstood gave him a "rage". This is how he started to play differently and express himself fully with his ball. He made a spectacular basketball career at Lower Merion High School, where he started to catch everyone's attention. His fantastic game and multiple awards, made him a legend. He ended his high-school career in 1996 with a 2,882 career points. At age 18, he decided to skip college and bring his talent to the NBA. From this point on, he knew nothing would stop him - and so it was -.
As a true massive Lakers fan, Kobe knew everything about the Lakers, he was absolutely obsessed with Magic and spent all his time training, working on his skyhook to be like Kareem, on his baby hook to be like Magic, on his runners to be like James Worthy, on his pull up jump shot in transition to be like Byron Scott, not leaving his golden jersey Lakers uniform.
Did his hard work pay? Yes! His dream became true and soon after, he entered his name into the NBA Draft and traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. His first season started and he did not receive that much playing time, he was ready to show who he was, though. Second season: he began to show his abilities and talent and received more playing time. 1997, Kobe arrived to this crucial moment where he missed 4 airballs, looking against Utah Jazz. Shortly after, Kobe took his revenge and proudly won against Utah Jazz, but more than anything, he worked body and soul to improve his game. One year after, he was compared to the biggest basketball legend such as Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson and was expected to do better than veterans - and he knew he would! -.
His first few years in the NBA were his learning years. Here are his stats:
- 1996-1997: 7.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists.
- 1997-1998: 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists.
- 1998-1999: 19.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists.
During these three momentous years, Kobe Bryant's stats were:
- 1999-2000: 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists.
- 2000-2001: 28.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists.
- 2001-2002: 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists.
The next years, from 2002 to 2005 were marked by the feud between Bryant and Shaq. It was a good press and each week the two big players argued over the headlines. Until the two big superstars had to separate, this is when Shaq left LA. Kobe Bryant's stats kept evolving, though:
- 2002-2003: 30 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists.
- 2003-2004: 24 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists.
- 2004-2005: 27.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6 assists.
- 2005-2006: 35.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists.
- 2006-2007: 31.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists.
In the years 2007 to 2009, a new teammate, Pau Gasol, arrived. The Lakers were back to success! Kobe Bryant won his fourth championship and proved to be one of the all-time greats. It's at that time that Kobe Bryant thirsty of victory and won the long-awaited game Celtics Vs. Lakers, which was one of the greatest moments of his career.
- 2007-2008: 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists.
- 2008-2009: 26.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists.
A love so deep I gave you my all
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul."
"The 2015–16 season " is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding.
My mind can handle the grind.
But my body knows it's time to say goodbye.
And that's OK.
I'm ready to let you go."
A full career of a basketball legend! And if you wonder about his fortune, Kobe Bryant started with a $3.5 million contract in 1996 and has reached $62 million at the end of his career. He has an estimated fortune of $600 million. Here is a summary of his great career according to the Basketball Reference:
Kobe Bryant's Family
If Kobe Bryant grew with his ball and dedicated himself to basketball, he also had a lovely family life. He met his wife Vanessa Laine when he was turning a video clip and rapping in his young years. It is said that he recognized her at first glance. He took her for a first date at Disneyland and they literally fell in love, finding in each other best friends and soul mates. 6 months later, he proposed her during her 18th birthday party. They got married and had their first child Natalia. After a miscarriage in 2005, their second daughter came to life, Gianna Bryant. In early December 2016, their third daughter Bianka was born and a last baby girl in June 2019: Capri Bryant. Vanessa Laine Bryant has been the backbone of Kobe since the very first years of his career. Always by his side, even during the sexual assault scandal. The couple braved the storm and were bonded for life, enjoying a happy family life.
Kobe Bryant - The Tragedy
On January 26, 2020, a terrible news revealed that a Silkorsky S-76 helicopter crashed with Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people on board. The group was traveling to a basketball game of the Mamba Academy. The whole world, shocked by the terrible news, has honored the memory of Kobe Bryant and supported Vanessa and her three other daughters. He left behind him, his wife and a 17 years old daughter, a 3 years-old daughter and a 7-month baby daughter. As well as tons of fans and good friends all over the world...
Kobe Bryant's Quotes & Souvenirs
Kobe Bryant had what is known as a "Mamba Mentality". This mentality is focused on hard-working every day to achieve your goal, learning from any situation, no being afraid to fail, honesty, adversity, saying "Everything negative, pressure, challenges, is an opportunity for me to rise.", winning saying "I'll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.".
Kobe Bryant was never giving on, no matter what were the difficulties, he had this Mamba fire, this is how he coached hi team, while he was known to be a very mature man and player. He has made himself a worldwide basketball legend. Rest in peace.