The Evolution of Kobe Bryant

The Evolution of Kobe Bryant

From Itlay to Los Angeles, here is how Kobe grew to be one of the most inspirational figures in the history of sports.

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Kobe has been called “Bean,” or “Black Mamba,’’ or just “Kobe.” Whatever you know or knew him as just know that Kobe Bean Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of basketball and if you run into the right fan, they consider the greatest of all time.

During his NBA career, he was a five-time champion, two-time Finals MVP, one-time MVP, 18-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA and 12-time defensive team.

His play on the court and his “Mamba Mentality” off of it has inspired millions of people in a plethora of professions. Unfortunately, Bryant and his 13-year-daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020.

We all mourned his death, and now we share his legacy. Here is the evolution of Kobe Bryant.

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Born in Philadelphia

Born in Philadelphia

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Screenshot: USC

Kobe Bean Bryant was born on August 23, 1978, to Joe “Jellybean” Bryant and Pam Cox Bryant in Philadelphia, Pa. He was the youngest of three children and the only son.

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Italy

Italy

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Kobe’s father, Joe, was an NBA player and retired from the league when his son was six. He moved his family to Rieti, Italy to play professional basketball overseas. Kobe learned to speak Italian fluently while also developing a love of basketball.

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High school

High school

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Screenshot: USA Today

When he was 13, Kobe’s family moved back to Philadelphia. For high school, Kobe attended Lower Merion High school where he grew to be the best high school basketball player in the country. During his senior year, he led Lower Merion to a state championship.

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1996 NBA Draft

1996 NBA Draft

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Although he was recruited by Duke, North Carolina and Michigan, at 17 years old Kobe opted to declare for the 1996 NBA Draft. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick and traded that same night to the Los Angeles Lakers, his favorite team when he was a child.

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Rookie year

Rookie year

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As a rookie, Kobe struggled during the times he did an opportunity  to play in Laker games. He averaged 7.6 points, 1.9. rebounds and 1.3 assists and 41 percent shooting from the field. He had an infamous in game 5 of the 1997 Western Conference Semifinals against the Utah Jazz where he airballed four shots in the span of five minutes.

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2000 NBA Championship

2000 NBA Championship

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Michael Jordan is gone. The NBA landscape is wide open. Kobe along with Shaquille O’Neal and head coach Phil Jackson won their first of many NBA championships against the Indiana Pacers in six games. Kobe in particular had a standout performance in game 4 when Shaq fouled out.

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Vanessa

Vanessa

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Kobe became engaged to Vanessa Laine in May 2000. The couple married in April 2001. They went on to have four daughters: Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri.

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2001 NBA Championship

2001 NBA Championship

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In the 2001 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers were unstoppable, losing only one game to the Philadelphia Sixers in game one of the NBA Finals. In every other game, they dominated. They cruised to back-to-back championships.

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Three-peat

Three-peat

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Same old, same old. The Lakers became the first team to three-peat since the 90s Chicago Bulls teams. They made easy work of the New Jersey Nets in four games in the 2002 NBA Finals.

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Sexual assault case

Sexual assault case

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In the summer of 2003, Kobe was arrested in Colorado in connection with a sexual assault complaint filed by a hotel employee who was 19. She accused Kobe of rape but he claimed the encounter was consensual. The case went to trial but was eventually dropped in September 2004. Kobe’s reputation was tarnished as a result of the trial and he lost many of his endorsements, including his sneaker deal with Adidas.

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Kobe vs. Shaq

Kobe vs. Shaq

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Kobe and Shaq had a well-documented feud with each other over whose team it was. Kobe also was not happy that Shaq did not take care of his body the way Kobe did with his. After the 2004 NBA Finals, in which they were demolished by the Detroit Pistons, Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat.

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81 Points

81 Points

EVERY BUCKET From Kobe Bryant’s 81-PT Performance!

Life without Shaq was not easy, but he put on an individual show from 2004-2007. On January 22, 2006, against the Toronto Raptors, Kobe scored 81 points, second to Wilt Chamberlain’s single-game record of 100 points.

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2008 NBA Finals

2008 NBA Finals

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During the 2007-2008 NBA season, Kobe won regular season MVP and made it back to the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, the Lakers lost in six games and it served as motivation for him for the next few seasons.

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Back-to-Back

Back-to-Back

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The Lakers got right back to their winning ways in 2009 and 2010, championing the Finals in both years and Kobe taking home the Finals MVP in back-to-back years proving he could truly win without Shaq’s help.

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Injuries

Injuries

Kobe Bryant Achilles Injury Game 2014

While Kobe still had some prime years after the 2010 NBA Finals, injuries started to catch up with the NBA veteran. At the age of 34, he suffered a torn achilles tendon, which is like a death sentence for a basketball player’s career. While he eventually returned to the court, he was never the same player he once was.

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Farewell tour

Farewell tour

Kobe Bryant Drops 60 in Final Game of Career!!

During the 2015-2016 NBA season, Kobe announced that it would be his final year in the NBA. Fans in every NBA arena greeted him with open arms and were enamored to see the NBA legend one final time. In his final game as a Laker, Kobe scored 60 points.

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Oscars

Oscars

Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant - “Dear Basketball” wins Best Animated Short Film | 90th Oscars (2018)

Shortly after retirement, Kobe became the first African-American to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film Dear Basketball, which he wrote and narrated. He also became the first former professional athlete to be nominated and win the award.

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Other off-court ventures

Other off-court ventures

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Kobe was working on a children’s book that was aimed at inspiring underprivileged youth. He also coached his daughter, Gianna’s AAU team in his free time.

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Death

Death

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Shockingly, on January 26, 2020, Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and seven other victims died in a helicopter crash at 41 years old. His daughter was 14.

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