10 Facts Celebrating the Life of Kobe Bryant
Like millions of people all over the world, here at spbappo.com, we were shocked to hear the news of the passing of basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
To fans of the sport, he was simply one of the greatest of all time, and even to those of us who aren’t that familiar with basketball, he was one of the world’s most recognizable sports personalities. He shone not only on the court but in all kinds of other areas as well. So to pay our respects, we’ve decided to take a look at this incredible life and to celebrate it with 10 amazing facts about Kobe Bryant.
1. He joined the LA Lakers when he was just 17
And he became only the 6th NBA player to be drafted straight from high school. Playing in the High School league in Pennsylvania, he became the league’s most top scorer ever. So it didn’t take long before invitations from the NBA came flooding in. And the team that snapped up wasn’t the Lakers, but the North Carolina team, the Charlotte Hornets. But it seems the Hornets had no idea who they’d got their hands on. Not only was he their 13th choice, but they immediately traded him to the LA Lakers for Serbian player Vlade Divac.
Bryant made his mark directly on the Lakers, helping them win NBA titles in both of his first two seasons: as well as three more titles throughout his 20-year career in LA.
2. He also did well Academically
If Bryant hadn’t made it as a basketball pro, it’s fair to say he would have done well in another field. He performed well on his SATS, with an overall score of 1080. Combined with his basketball skills, this would have guaranteed him entry to the right college. But for Kobe, there was no doubt what direction he was headed in, and he decided to skip college and go pro straight from school.
3. Kobe spent a lot of his childhood in Italy
His dad, Joe Bryant, was also a basketball player. And when he retired from the NBA, he decided to play in the Italian league, and took the whole family with him, staying there until Kobe was 14. In interviews, Kobe often said that Italy always had a special place in his heart, and he even became fluent in Italian. In the town of Reggio Emilia, where Kobe lived for two years, the mayor has already decided to name a square in the city after him.
4. In Italy, he also developed a love for soccer
For his first few years in Italy, Kobe’s go-to sport wasn’t basketball, but soccer. And he also became a lifelong fan of Italian team AC Milan.
If things had turned out differently, he could have ended up becoming a soccer player. Perhaps the main reason this didn’t happen was because of his grandfather, who used to send him videos of NBA games by postal service. (Remember, these were the days before the internet).As a result, Kobe fell in love with basketball and started to play the sport seriously. But he stayed a huge soccer fan throughout his life and was known to appear at charity soccer matches, giving us a taste of what might have been if he’d stayed in the sport.
5. He was named after a Japanese food delicacy
In 1979, when Pamela and Joe Bryant gave birth to their third child, they had an unusual source of inspiration for naming him. After seeing Kobe beef on a restaurant menu, they decided they liked the name and called him Kobe. Early on in his career, Bryant even visited the city where the beef comes from, and that he shared a name with.
And while he was there, he also donated a relief effort following a major earthquake in Kobe, and let’s not forget that for most of his career, he was also known affectionately by another name – Black Mamba. Bryant himself chose this one. After seeing the film, Kill Bill, he was drawn to Uma Thurman’s character, who had the codename Black Mamba. Mamba is a snake with a deadly ability to strike with speed and precision – qualities that Bryant was known for on the court, and this prompted to choose to take this nickname for himself, and since then, whenever we’ve heard the words Black Mamba, we’ve thought of Kobe.
6. He holds the record for the second score by an individual in an NBA game
In January 2006, in a game against the Toronto Raptors, Bryant scored an incredible 81 points. These points were crucial, as the game was closer than you might think, finishing at 122 to 104. Kobe’s score in this game has only been bettered once in an NBA game, in 1962, when Wilt Chamberlain took home 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors.
7. He also won 2 Olympic gold medals
As well as the 5 NBA leagues that Bryant won, he also won 2 Olympic gold medals – in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 Olympics in London. Both finals saw the USA taking on the Spanish team, and In both events, as you’d expect, Bryant was instrumental in leading the USA to gold.
8. Kobe and Vanessa Bryant hade four daughters
Tragically, the death of Kobe, and their second daughter, Gianna, came just weeks after the couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.
They first met in 1999, when Kobe was 21 and Vanessa was 17 and were married only six months later. At the time, Bryant’s parents objected to the marriage, and even refused to attend it. This was partly because they were unhappy about them getting married at such a young age.
And also because they had objections to Kobe marrying a woman who wasn’t African American. However, thankfully, they put their differences aside with the birth of their first daughter, Natalia, in 2003.
9. He was well known for his relentless work ethic
Examples of this include his habit of practicing alone in a dark court before anyone else had got there – and being the last to leave. He once insisted that Nike shave a few millimeters off the bottom of a shoe to improve the reaction time by a fraction of a second, and even though he suffered from injuries later on his career, he was known for never giving up, and often demonstrated a high pain threshold. He also loved being booed by the crowd and often stated that this just made him work harder.
10. Bryant’s net worth
was estimated at a staggering 500 million dollars, making him one of the wealthiest athletes of all time. As well as his NBA league earnings, a lot of this came from a long list of brands that he endorsed. His first deal, which he signed with Adidas, earned him $48 million and resulted in his signature KB8 shoe. He later switched to Nike and also had endorsements with Sprite, McDonald’s, and Nutella, among others. You can add to that Nintendo’s NBA Courtside, as well as appearances on Guitar Hero World Tour and Call of Duty: Black Ops, and the $500 million he made starts to make sense. And how can we forget his appearances with Lionel Messi on Turkish Airline’s adverts, in which the two sports aces compete to impress a kid with their skills?