On January 26, 2020, the world lost a giant of a man and a great basketball player. Kobe Bean Bryant was born on August 23, 1978. Kobe was the youngest of his three siblings born to former NBA player Joe Bryant and his wife Pamela. He would make his mark on basketball at the earlier age of 13 while in middle school. Upon entering high school Bryant had become a notable name in the cities sports community as he was the first freshmen to play on the varsity team in many years. Bryant was known to play all five positions while in high school and was names the Pennsylvania Player of the Year and he earned his fourth team Parade All-American nomination. Bryant would lead his high school basketball team to the state championship after 53 years during his senior year. Bryant led his team to a 31-3 record while he averaged 30 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists during the game.
Bryant’s skills on the court allowed him to gain the attention of several colleges with Villanova, Duke and Michigan being at the top of this list. However, Bryant would set his sight on the NBA and entered the 1996 draft straight out of high school. Bryant would be drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and was traded to the LA Lakers. As a rookie Bryant would make a name for himself as a hard worker who was always looking to improve his game. Bryant would also stand out as a fan favorite after winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest. In his second season, Bryant would be named an All-Star. Because of his hard work and dedication to improving his skills on the court, Bryant would find himself as the leader of the LA Lakers and he and teammate Shaquille O’Neal would lead the Lakers to three NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. Bryant led the NBA in scoring for two consecutive years. He would again lead the Lakes to NBA championship in 2009 and 2010. He was the youngest player in the league to score 30,000 points, he was named the league MVP in both 2009 and 2010. And although he suffered from injuries, he continued to be one of the league’s top players. Bryant who was nicked named the “Black Mamba” was the first guard to play for 20 seasons and his 18 “All-Star” designation was the second-highest ever. In 2016 one of the world’s greatest basketball players ever retired from his first passion Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016.
But retirement would allow Kobe to focus on his other passions, his family and movie making. In 2018 Kobe’s “Dear Basketball” won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. The film was based on a poem written by Kobe regarding his upcoming retirement from the NBA. In 2018 Kobe became co-owner of the Sports Academy and its name was changed to honor the basketball great. Kobe would devote his time to training young people to be the best-the Mamba way. Kobe Bryant, age 41, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.