Kobe was born on August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia. His parents named him Kobe Bean Bryant. They gave him the middle name bean, because his dad's nickname was Jellybean. His dad played professional basketball. Kobe started playing basketball at the age of 3. He lived in Italy for 5 years and learned to speak Italian fluently. At the age of 13, they moved back to Philadelphia.
Kobe had a very good high school basketball career. He was named Pennsylvania Player of the Year, and started getting attention from college recruiters. While he was still in high school, the 76ers coach invited him to workout and scrimmage with the team. During his 12th grade year, he received a lot of recognition including, Naismith High School Player of the Year, Gatorade Men's National Basketball Player of the Year, a McDonald's All-American, a first-team Parade All-American and a USA Today All-USA First Team player.
Professional NBA Career
He made mistakes though, like missing 3 three-point attempts in overtime during the Western Conference semifinals. In his second season, he got more playing time, but the Lakers still lost in the playoffs. However, he signed a six-year contract extension worth $70 million and sportswriters were comparing his skills to Michael Jordan.
In 1996, Bryant was the first guard drafted directly out of high school, at the age of 17. He was so young that his parents had to cosign his $3.5 million three-year rookie contract. As a rookie in the 199-1997 basketball season, he became the youngest NBA starter at 18 years old.
Professional NBA Career
Bryant’s career continued to improve and the Lakers won three championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. After that, they wouldn’t win a championship, until 2009, when they defeated the Orlando Magic. He was the youngest player in the NBA to score 20,000 points.
In November 2015, Kobe announced that he would be retiring. Still today, he ranks 4th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He was an ambassador for After-School All-Stars. It provides after-school programs to children in 13 US Cities. He started the Kobe Bryant China Fund to raise money with China for education and health. Kobe and his wife were founding donors of the National Museum of African American History and Culture established in Washington DC in 2003. He also wrote several young adult novels, one even topped the New York Times list!
Kobe passed away on January 26, 2020 in a helicopter crash. There were nine people total on board, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. It isn’t certain why the crash happened; but there was extreme fog that morning, which was thought to be the cause of the accident.
In 2009, he earned his first NBA Finals MVP Trophy. The Lakers won again in 2010 and he earned the MVP award again.
On February 15, the NBA commissioner renamed the MVP Award, the "NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant Most Valuable Player."