Kobe Bryant, a basketball legend recently made headlines as it was reported that he tragically died in a helicopter crash at the age of forty-one, together with his thirteen-year-old daughter Gianna, as they were travelling to a basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in California. Bryant was scheduled to coach the tournament game within the same Academy. Unfortunately, all of the nine people on board did not survive the crash.
Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the 23rd August 1978. He was the youngest of three children. Kobe started playing basketball at the tender age of three. Growing up, the Los Angeles Lakers were always his favourite team.
When Kobe was six years of age, his father Joe Bryant retired from the NBA and the family moved to Italy, where his father continued to play professional basketball at a lower level. In 1991, when Kobe Bryant turned thirteen years of age, the family moved back to Philadelphia.
When they returned back to Philadelphia, Kobe Bryant joined the Lower Merion High School basketball team. When he graduated from high school at the age of seventeen, he immediately entered the National Basketball Association (NBA) signing his first ever contract with the Lakers totalling three and a half million dollars. At the time, when the 1996-1997 season kicked off, he was considered as the second youngest NBA player in history. He quickly proved his worth with the Lakers and was selected for the NBA All Star Game in just his second season.
In 2002, by the time Bryant was twenty-three years of age, the Lakers had won three consecutive championships. Once again Bryant led the league in scoring during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons, and in 2008 he was named the league’s Most Valuable Player for the first time in his career. Although the Lakers made it to the NBA finals, they lost to the Boston Celtics. In 2009 and 2010, his team won back-to-back NBA Finals, winning a total of five NBA championships throughout his career as a basketball player.
Although Bryant returned in time for the start of the 2015-2016 NBA season, he personally struggled alongside his younger Lakers teammates. In fact, in November 2015 he announced that he will retire by the end of the season. By the close of the season Bryant wrote a message to all his fans thanking them wholeheartedly for their outstanding support and stating that “My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind but my body knows that it’s time to say goodbye.”Following his death on the 26th January 2020, several fans including the Los Angeles Lakers themselves paid tribute to honour Bryant’s legacy. The Lakers have adopted Kobe Bryant’s initials on their outfits to honour his legacy and have also placed his logo on the baseline at Staples Centre.
Furthermore, to honour Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, at the 2020 NBA All Star Game, the league has decided that every player on Team LeBron will wear jerseys featuring Gianna’s No.2 while Team Giannis will wear jerseys featuring Kobe’s No.24. In addition, all participants in All Star weekend will wear a patch with nine stars to remember the nine victims of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and seven others.