Born on August 23, 1978, Bryant had one of the most legendary basketball careers of all time.
Bryant was born to former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant and Pamela Cox Bryant, who named him after the famous beef of Kobe, Japan. When he was 6 years old, his father retired from the NBA and moved the family to Rieti, Italy, where Kobe learned how to speak fluent Italian and how to play basketball. Kobe and his family returned to the United States in 1991.
He went on to have a successful basketball career at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, where he led the team to the state championships four years in a row. After graduating in 1996, Bryant decided to enter the National Basketball Association (NBA) and was selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA draft. He was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kobe spent his 20-year career with the Lakers where he won five NBA championships. In 2008, he was honored with the MVP Award. His other accomplishments include surpassing Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA all-time scoring list in December 2014 and winning an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Dear Basketball in 2018.
He announced his retirement from the NBA in 2016 and scored 60 points during his final game with the Lakers against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center in April 2016.
In 2003, Kobe was accused of sexual assault but the case was dismissed in 2004 and a civil lawsuit was settled out of court.
On January 26, 2020, the basketball legend, his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers died when their helicopter crashed and caught fire in Calabasas, California. The chopper was on its way to Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks ahead of a game. The Oscar winner coached Gianna’s Athletic Amateur Union team.
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Kobe is survived by his wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant, whom he married in April 2001, and daughters Natalia Diamante, Bianka and Capri.