The NBA and sports world was stunned on the afternoon of Sunday 26th January 2020 when the news broke that former Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was among the nine people who died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Bryant was 41.
Bryant played 20 seasons, all of them with the Lakers, and scored 33,643 points, which ranks him fourth on the all-time NBA scoring list. Just Saturday night, current Lakers star LeBron James passed Bryant for third on the all-time list with 33,655.
One thing we must all remember is Kobe died doing what he loved…He died being a great father.
Kobe ‘Bean’ Bryant was born on August 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His mother was and his father was Joe Bryant, a former Philadelphia 76ers player. He was pushed by his father from an early age to take up basketball. He started playing basketball at the age of 3, and his favourite team was the Lakers.
When Kobe was six, his father left the NBA and moved his family to Italy to continue playing professional basketball. Kobe became accustomed to his new lifestyle and learned to speak fluent Italian. During the summer, he would go back to America to play in a basketball summer league.
Bryant earned national recognition during a spectacular high school career at Lower Merion High School located in Ardmore, Philadelphia. He became the first freshman in decades to start for Lower Merion’s varsity team, but the team finished with a 4-20 record. In the following three years, the Aces compiled a 77-13 record, with Bryant effortlessly playing all five positions. During his junior year, he averaged 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists and was named Pennsylvania Player of the Year, attracting attention from college recruiters in the process. Duke, Michigan, North Carolina, and Villanova were at the top of his list; however, when Kevin Garnett went in the first round of the 1995 NBA draft, he began considering going directly to the pros.
In his 20 seasons with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant played in seven NBA Finals and his teams won five championships.
On Nov. 3, 1996, Bryant made his NBA debut with the Lakers after the Charlotte Hornets drafted him with the 13th overall selection of that year’s draft, but traded him to Los Angeles. At the time Kobe was the youngest player to ever appear in an NBA game at 18 years and 72 days old.
Once Kobe got to the Lakers it was Game on.
Bryant won his first of five NBA Finals trophies with the Lakers in a five-game series against the Indiana Pacers in the 2000 NBA Finals.
Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to reach the 30,000-point club when he connected on a jump shot during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Hornets.
His skill knew no limits as he even outscored an entire team through three-quarters of a game. In 2005, Bryant recorded 62 points against the Dallas Mavericks at the end of the third period, while the entire Mavericks team had 61.
Even though Bryant was one of the older players on the 2008 Team USA squad in the Summer Olympics, it was Bryant – not emerging stars like Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and LeBron James – who helped seal the gold medal against Spain. Bryant scored 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter that helped him earn his first Olympic gold medal. He went on to win another medal in the 2012 Games.
Bryant won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, was named the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), and was a two-time NBA Finals MVP winner. It is easy to see why he is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time
Kobe’s Basketball Finale
During the final game of Kobe’s impeccable NBA career, on April 13, 2016, against the Utah Jazz, he scored 60 points on 22 of 50 shooting, including 10 of 12 from the line.
The Love Of His Life
Vanessa and Kobe Bryant were married for 19 years before the basketball star’s sudden death. The couple met when Vanessa was a senior in high school when she was 18. Her classmates were stunned when she caught the eye of then-20-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. the two began dating and were inseparable. Although it is widely reported they initially did not have his family’s blessing, the 2 love birds proved their love can withstand the test of time.
The married couple has 4 beautiful daughters together Natalia 17, Gianna 13, Bianka 3, and Capri 7 months. He was always a devoted and dedicated father.
Since Kobe’s tragic passing one thing we learned about the basketball star is that he had a deep love for being a father. Kobe was a multi-millionaire and could have been out doing anything in the world. Instead, he chose to spend his time with his 4 beautiful daughters. Attending their games and sports tournaments, taking family vacations and just enjoying his retirement with the people he loved most.
Real fathers create safe spaces for their children to harness their talents, and develop their skills. Kobe’s second daughter Gianna picked up her father’s passion for Basketball. Kobe then created the Black Mamba Sports Academy & training centre so his daughter can get the best possible start as she embarked on a career in professional basketball. Kobe was an advocate for women’s basketball and even coached other basketball players since his retirement from the sport.
This is what great fathers do, they create safe spaces for their children to blossom.
News Reporter Elle Duncan from ESPN said “I met Kobe one time. Backstage at an event for ESPN in new york”. As I approached him he immediately asked me about my growing belly. “How are you, how close are you, what are you having” – Kobe said. “A girl, Elle replied. Kobe then said “Girls are the best”. just be grateful you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing” “I would have 5 more girls if I could, I’m a girl dad”.
Elle went on to finish her short news segment sharing her memory of Kobe which left her close to tears as she remembered the day she met the sports star.
This prompted a viral hashtag online with thousands of men who are proud fathers of girls sharing photos with their daughters and using the hashtag GIRL DAD.
This also opened up the floor for discussion in the black community about the representation black fathers get in the media. It also brought to the forefront that good black fathers are out there in the millions. In the community, we see good black fathers every day, but in mainstream media black men are not associated with good fatherhood. Kobe was not the exception when it comes to being a black man who loves, provides for and supports his children dearly, there are millions of men just like him and we are happy this discussion is happening. black fathers do need more credit for the fantastic work they have always done. As hard as it is, I Thank Kobe and his beautiful Gianna for bringing this conversation to light.
Businesses & Accomplishments
Kobe is known as the “Black Mamba,” in basketball. He also began to build his brand as an athlete early in his career as a Nike endorser signing his first deal with the sports brand in 2003. He was in a small elite group of NBA players who signed with the brand that year, others include LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. This was a strategic move that helped to cement the brand’s position in the basketball world for the next couple of decades following Michael Jordan’s 2003 retirement.
As Bryant’s success on the court grew, so did his Nike partnership. The brand put out multiple lines of Kobe shoes and attire. The company was so impressed with Kobe in 2017, the company brought Bryant on stage with then-CEO Mark Parker at its annual investor meeting to celebrate the launch of Nike’s new business strategy.
Nike along with Kobe and the Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club teamed up to launch a youth basketball league, called the Mamba League. The project was launched in 2017 and was created to give hundreds of kids free access to the sport. Bryant later founded the Mamba Sports Academy to provide a larger range of athletic/lifestyle training to competitors at all levels in several sports.
Kobe was highly involved in the NBA’s efforts to expand its audience beyond the United States, particularly in China. In 2015, he worked with Alibaba Group to release his documentary “Kobe Bryant’s Muse” through its Tmall Magic Box TV in China. The deal also included working with Kobe to create a new social media platform “bringing new avenues of connecting China’s young people directly to Kobe and his philosophies,” the company sells many Kobe-branded products on its retail platform.
Kobe’s Entrepreneurial Spirit
Bryant diversified his career by breaking into the investing world even before leaving the NBA. In 2013, he co-founded venture capital firm Bryant Stibel along with Web.com founder Jeff Stibel.
In creating the company, Bryant followed the footsteps of other sports legends who transformed the skills developed on the court into lucrative investments and businesses. NBA Hall of Famer “Magic Johnson” was one of the first in 1987, when he founded investment firm Magic Johnson Enterprises.
Today Bryant’s business has more than $2 billion in assets, with investments in dozens of media, technology, and data companies. It is reported that Kobe’s investment company “Bryant Stibel” has had at least 10 successful exits, including Alibaba and Dell. The company also has investments in Fortnite creator Epic Games, and digital payment company Klarna to name a few.
“You’ve got to have strong entrepreneurs, that’s really the key for us is looking at the people,” Bryant said in an interview with CNBC in September. “Yes, it’s important to see those returns, right? But it’s also important to have great opportunity, great relationships with our investors, great opportunities with our entrepreneurs to help them grow and put them in situations where they can be successful.”
Bryant’s reputation as a star athlete and brand builder greatly contributed to the portfolio’s success.
In 2016, Bryant founded Granity Studios, a media company that focuses on creative storytelling around sports. It was through this company, Kobe wrote and narrated his short film called “Dear Basketball,”. The production went on to win an Academy Award for best animated short film in 2018. Granity has also released a set of books for young adults, along with Bryant’s autobiography, “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play.”
If you thought Kobe’s entrepreneurial efforts stopped there you are wrong as he also made millions on his investment in sports drink Body Armor. Kobe had another win when the sports drink company boosted its valuation by selling a stake to Coca Cola in 2018.
Kobe inspired many other athletes to follow in his footsteps turning their hands to business outside of the court.
“I think Kobe’s somebody who’s been super fun to kind of pick his brain about some things,” Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps told the Wall Street Journal in August 2019. “We’ve had the privilege and the opportunity in our sports to be successful and reach the pinnacle and we know what it takes to get to that top level. So now, it’s always the challenge for the athletes to find that drive outside of the sport.”
Throughout his career Kobe had other endorsement deals including, including Sprite, Smart Car, McDonald’s (MCD), Nintendo (NTDOF) and Turkish Airlines.
Legacy Of A Legend
Kobe Bryant is a name that we all grew up hearing, and athlete we could only watch and admire in awe of his gifts and talents. A man devoted to his beautiful wife and children, a man who believed in providing an opportunity for the next generation. A passionate individual who elevated the entire basketball industry. Helping to promote the sport around the world. I literally cannot sum his greatness into one article, it’s impossible and rude to even try and do so. Kobe’s legacy reaches far beyond his time on the basketball court. He expanded his skills and became known in the business world as a brand-builder; an investor; and company founders.
Bryant sadly died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California at the age of 41.
Bryant’s tragic accident came just a day after Bryant had been passed by LeBron James for third place on the NBA all-time scoring list.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames,” Bryant wrote on Twitter, in congratulations to James’ accomplishment. “Much respect my brother #33644.”
Bryant is one of the greatest to ever step foot on a basketball court, leading the Lakers to five NBA Championships in his historic 20-year career.
Bryant was on his way to a Mamba Sports Academy game when the helicopter crashed. He died with his daughter Gianna and 7 others. May they all Rest In Peace.
We are devastated by the tragic news. We send our deepest sympathies to Kobe’s family and friends. This is a major loss for many, the world continues to mourn a man who shared his greatness with us all.
Mamba Forever x