A Timeline of Kobe Bryant’s Life, Tragic Death and Legacy

If you ever consider starting a group discussion on the most instantly recognizable names in basketball history, be sure that the name Kobe Bryant will jump right at you even before you begin to set the table. An insurmountably gifted athlete, Kobe Bryant was an American former professional basketball player who utterly ruled the courts with dangerously swift, yet incredibly mesmerizing moves that only he understood the knowhow. Hundreds of thousands watched him when he played, and each time, they were held spellbound by the athleticism of Bryant whose competitiveness has become legendary.

Fondly called ‘Mamba’ by his many admirers, Kobe Bryant transcended the game of basketball and became one of the most beloved athletes in the USA. One of the most skillful and successful players in NBA history, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, having won global recognition with the mouthwatering success he had with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent his entire playing career. Some of his many accomplishments include winning the NBA championships five times and emerging the NBA Most Valuable Player, among countless other accolades.

What Kobe Bryant’s Early Years Looked Like

Kobe Bryant, whose full birth name is Kobe Bean Bryant, opened his eyes for the first time on earth on the 23rd day of August 1978. The basketball legend was given birth to in Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania, and was the youngest child among three children born to a father identified as Joe Bryant and a mother called Pamela Cox Bryant. Kobe had two sisters named Sharia Bryant and Shaya Bryant.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant as a child with his father, Joe Bryant.

Interestingly, Kobe’s father Joe is also an American former basketball player, who is now a coach. Kobe must have ignited his love for basketball from his father after having watched his father playing. Kobe’s mother, on the other hand, is known to be a very lively woman and a sharp dresser who always wore a deep smile whenever she was seen in public places.

How Kobe got his name

The story behind how Kobe Bryant got his name is quite interesting. According to our sources, Kobe’s parents were one day eating out at a restaurant when they noticed something curious written on the menu list; it was the “Kobe beef.” The Kobe beef is a Japanese food which is usually made from the Japanese Black cattle. His parents became so intrigued by the food that they named their son after it.

Also, it is noteworthy that Kobe Bryant’s middle name, ‘Bean’ was gotten from ‘Jellybean,’ a nickname that his father was known for while he was active as a basketball player in the NBA. Even though he was born in Philadelphia, Kobe Bryant did not spend all of his childhood days in that city. Instead, he and his two sisters spent quite a lot of time growing up in Italy after their father moved there following his retirement from the NBA. Joe wanted to continue playing basketball, but at a lower level so he moved to Italy to actualize the dream.

Kobe Bryant (right) took after his father, Joe (left)

While in Italy, Kobe and his family did not live in one place throughout their sojourn there. Instead, they changed locations often, living together in three different cities at different times. In the process, Kobe learned how to speak Italian fluently. It was also in Italy that he began to play basketball seriously.

Why Generations Unborn Will Talk About Kobe’s Career Exploits

When Kobe Bryant turned 13 years old in 1991, he and his family left Italy and returned to the United States, where they settled in Philadelphia. Shortly after this, Kobe then enrolled at Lower Merion High School to have his high school education. While in Lower Merion High, Kobe showed his utter brilliance as a basketball player when he joined the school’s basketball team.

After joining his high school basketball team, Kobe Bryant immediately became the center of attraction there. Even though he was so young at the time, Kobe dazzled fellow athletes and even coaches with his superb skills. He scored like a pro and was so confident and apt at dribbling that he often got standing ovations from observers.

He eventually led the team to the state championships for about four years in a row. During this time, he widely became recognized as one of the top high-school basketball players in the country.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant pictured in action for his high school, the Lower Merion High School.

While still in high school, Kobe already had his eyes on playing in the NBA, so he started training with the Philadelphia 76ers, thus becoming the very first freshman in some decades to start for Lower Merion’s varsity team. At this rate, it was obvious that Kobe was going very fast and some people felt it was a little too fast, but Kobe knew what he wanted and went for it.

Kobe’s Exceptional NBA Career

When Kobe Bryant finished high school, he did something very unusual; he decided to skip university and go straight to the NBA. Usually, when basketball players finish high school, they proceed to play college basketball before eventually declaring for the NBA, but this procedure was not for Kobe. For him, it was the NBA straight!

This was quite easy for Kobe to do because he was already making some waves as a basketball player of note around the USA. Eventually, he declared for the 1996 NBA draft and was finally selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick of the 1996 NBA draft. However, shortly after this, Charlotte Hornets traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers, where his greatness manifested in all its glory.

Kobe Bryant hit the ground running at the Los Angeles Lakers. In his rookie year, he won a lot of admiration by establishing himself as a high-flying goal-getter after emerging the winner of the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest. The future was bright and everyone knew this about Kobe Bryant.

A Call from Michael Jackson Changed His Life

Early in his career, something interesting happened to Kobe Bryant that changed his life in a major way. It was in his second year at the Los Angeles Lakers, and he was just about 19 years old. That summer, he was in the gym one day when his phone rang, and it turned out that the person calling him was no other person than the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Kobe was ecstatic! He was also a fan of Michael.

Kobe Bryant was a friend of Michael Jackson. He is pictured here with Magic Johnson at Michael’s funeral in 2009.

It turned out that Michael had been carefully following the career of Kobe and had called to offer some advice. Eventually, Kobe and Michael Jackson met and the meeting changed Kobe’s life. At the time, Kobe was under pressure from many people who accused him of showboating and being too serious on the court. The criticism was tearing him apart. However, Michael advised him to be himself and just do what he thought was right no matter what anyone else thought.

Those were the words Kobe needed to hear, and they propelled him to greater heights. In that same season, Kobe Bryant got voted a starter for the 1998 All-Star Game. Since he was just 19 years old at the time, this vote made him the youngest All-Star in NBA history.

In 2000, Kobe teamed up with his teammate, Shaquille O’Neal to form one of the most deadly scoring duos in the league’s history. The two of them eventually led the Lakers into winning the NBA championship that year. Interestingly, it was the Lakers’ first championship win since 1988.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal formed an unstoppable duo.

Kobe and O’Neal were virtually unstoppable, stunning basketball fans all around the world. They continued their exploits for the next two years, winning three straight NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. However, in 2004, O’Neal left the Lakers after being traded so Kobe became the center-focus of the Lakers.

As expected, Kobe continued his exploits, topping the scoring charts in both the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons. In January 2006, Kobe got the basketball world standing on its feet when he scored an amazing 81 points in a single match against the Toronto Raptors. This incredible feat earned him the second-highest single-game scoring mark in NBA history, cementing his status as one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history.

Kobe continued to rank among the top scorers, leading the Lakers to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic to win the championship, and in 2010, they beat the Celtics to win it for the second year straight. In both years, Kobe was named the NBA Finals MVP in recognition of his dazzling skills.

Kobe Bryant’s Injuries and Retirement From Basketball

Even though Kobe Bryant continued ranking among the very best basketball players, he began to suffer some injuries in the latter years, and this limited his brilliance. In 2013, when he was about 34 years old, Kobe suffered a horrific injury, a torn Achilles tendon. The athlete eventually recovered from this setback, but then shortly after, he suffered another season-ending injury to his knee in 2014, which further kept him out of action to the dismay of his adoring fans.

Just as he was about to make a complete come back from that knee injury, Kobe suffered yet another serious injury to his shoulder in 2015, and this largely kept him out of play for that season. The injuries were taking a huge toll on him. Eventually, he announced that he would retire after the 2015-16 season. At this time, Kobe had become one of the most beloved and admired basketball players in the NBA, and many fans didn’t want to see him go.

Kobe Bryant waves to the crowd after dazzling fans in his final game for the Lakers.

When he eventually retired at the end of the season in 2016, Kobe was 38 years old and had played for 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. This made him the very first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons. He had cemented his status as an unforgettable legend of the sport.

Kobe Bryant also did exploits on the international scene. In 2008, he represented the USA at the Olympics, where he won a gold medal with the team. Also, in 2012, he won another gold medal as a member of the U.S. national team.

Bryant’s Exploits Outside The Basketball Court

Kobe Bryant was not just interested in basketball, he also loved music and decided to give it a shot. However, unlike basketball where he became unstoppable and prolific, he did not achieve so much success in the musical arena.

While he was still in high school, Kobe Bryant joined a rap group called CHEIZAW, with whom he staged performances. Later on, Sony Entertainment, which wanted to capitalize on Kobe’s growing NBA fame, got around to sign the CHEIZAW group but had the aim of eliminating the other group members to promote only Kobe.

Eventually, Kobe began working on his debut album titled Visions with a scheduled release date of 2000. The first single from the album, K.O.B.E dropped in January 2000, but it wasn’t well-received by the public. Sony Entertainment finally forsook the plans for Kobe’s album and the project was never launched even after Kobe co-founded a record label called Heads High Entertainment.

Kobe Bryant performs on stage in 2000 during the launch of his record label.

Kobe would later be featured in different songs by different artists. Some of the artists who featured him on their records include Destiny’s Child and Jay Chou, among others.

How Much Money Did Kobe Bryant Make?

There is no doubt in the world that Kobe Bryant made quite a lot of money in his lifetime. As one of the most successful figures in basketball history, he raked in huge salaries and established businesses that made him a wealthy man. But how much was he worth?

According to our sources, Kobe Bryant was worth an amazing $600 million at the time of his death in 2020. He was billed to make even more money in the coming years before his tragic demise.

A Breakdown of How He Earned His $600 Million Net Worth

A large chunk of his net worth came from the salaries he received in his playing days. Forbes rated him one of the highest-paid sports stars in the world during his career. Our investigation shows that Kobe Bryant raked in a massive $328 million in just salary alone during his playing career with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2016, in his final year in the NBA, Kobe is reported to have earned $25 million.

Kobe Bryant also made money from different endorsements deals. As one of the brightest shining lights in the NBA, endorsement deals naturally came his way. Some of his many endorsements deals were with Nike, Hublot, McDonald’s, Sprite, Panini, Turkish Airlines, and Lenovo. Also, Kobe was very popular in China during his lifetime, and this huge popularity fetched him endorsements deals from different companies, including Alibaba, Mercedes Benz, and Sina.com.

Kobe Bryant pictured with his adoring Chinese fans.

And Kobe never took the love he got in China for granted. He often tweeted about how much the Chinese people show him enormous support, as well as how much he feels honored to be with them.

Kobe Bryant also had investments with BodyArmor, the popular sports drink after he acquired more than 10% of the company for roughly $5 million in 2014. Nearly four years later in 2018, the value of his investments had shot up to about $200 million. Kobe is reported to have invested in dozens of other ventures.

During his retirement in 2016, all the money he made from his mouthwatering salaries and huge endorsements amounted to about $680 million. At the time, this amount of money was more than any other team athlete in the history of sports had ever earned.

He Loved To Give Back To Society

Kobe Bryant did not just make money, he also gave back to society. Passionate about providing kids with after-school programs, he became the official ambassador for After-School All-Stars, a non-profit organization in the USA saddled with the responsibility of providing comprehensive after-school programs to kids across thirteen cities in America.

In addition to this, he founded the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation along with his wife to assist the homeless people and also provide assistance to young people in need in different ways, including sport.

Since he was highly beloved in China, Kobe Bryant also founded the Kobe Bryant China Fund in partnership with the Soong Ching Ling Foundation and backed by the Chinese government. This partnership aimed to raise money for health programs and education.

The Sexual Assault Case That Almost Ruined His Reputation Forever

At the height of his fame in 2003, Kobe Bryant got entangled in a messy sexual assault scandal that almost tarnished the awesome reputation he had built. The problem started in the summer of 2003 when a 19-year-old female hotel worker in Colorado accused him of raping her in his hotel room.

Fans and admirers were utterly shocked when Kobe admitted that he indeed had an adulterous sexual encounter with the woman who was accusing him. He, however, denied the accusation that he raped her, insisting that the sexual encounter was purely a consensual one. As expected, Kobe’s confession tore his public reputation to shreds and several companies that had endorsements deals with him cut off ties with the athlete.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant pictured here leaving the courtroom after a hearing of his sexual assault case in 2003.

Subsequently, the case was dropped in 2004 by the prosecutors after the young woman who accused Kobe refused to testify at the trial. The case was finally settled out of court, and Kobe issued a public apology for what he had gotten himself into. Luckily for him, Bryant was able to bounce back to the good books of the public once again and continued with his exploits on the basketball court. His endorsement deals also returned.

Why Everyone Admired Kobe Bryant’s Family Life

Despite the personal challenges he had, Kobe Bryant’s family life and complete devotion to his wife and children was something everyone admired him for. Kobe was married to a woman called Vanessa Bryant. Kobe and Vanessa met way back in 1999 when Kobe was 21 years old and Vanessa was just 17 years old.

Our investigation revealed that at the time Kobe met Vanessa, she was working her way into the entertainment industry. She was working as a background dancer for a music video by Tha Eastsidaz, a hip hop trio. Kobe, who was also working on his debut music album at the time, happened to be in the building and was instantly attracted to Vanessa.

Shortly after this, Kobe and Vanessa fell in love and started dating and they never looked back. They became so attached that just six months later in May 2000, they became engaged. Many people, including Kobe’s parents, thought the lovebirds were too much in a hurry but there was no stopping the couple.

Finally, Kobe and Vanessa Bryant tied the knot as husband and wife on April 18, 2001. The wedding ceremony held in California at the St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church. Interestingly the wedding was not attended by Kobe’s parents who were not happy that he was marrying at a young age. Their absence at his wedding caused long-lasting friction between Kobe and his parents.

Kobe’s Beautiful Girls

Kobe Bryant never had a son, but the marriage between him and his wife, Vanessa produced some really beautiful girls. In total, the couple had four daughters. Their first daughter, Natalia Diamante Bryant was given birth to on 19 January 2003. It was her birth that forced a reconciliation between Kobe and his parents.

Kobe’s second daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant was born on the 1st day of May in 2006, and their third daughter, Bianka Bella Bryant was given birth to in December 2016. Their last daughter, Capri Kobe Bryant came in June 2019.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant pictured with his family

Kobe Bryant had a beautiful relationship with his children. He was usually very excited when he talked about them in interviews and was always seen with them at events and other outings.

He was very fond of his second daughter, Gianna because she was gearing up to become a professional basketball player just like him. Gianna was quite passionate about basketball, and Kobe got himself involved as the coach of her basketball team. Several photos from some of their training sessions were uploaded on social media, and fans were full of admiration for the way he loved his daughters and put family first.

How Kobe Nearly Became a Divorcee

In 2011, Kobe Bryant nearly became a divorcee after his wife decided that they should get divorced. Vanessa Bryant filed for divorce from her husband on the 16th of December that year and cited irreconcilable differences as her reason for wanting out. Fans were shocked at the turn of events because the couple had always appeared to be a loving one.

After Vanessa filed for divorce, she and Kobe requested joint custody of their daughters, and it seemed that the lovely Kobe-Vanessa team was about to be torn to shreds. However, things turned around shortly after when the couple announced that they were no longer going ahead with the divorce.

Despite what happened, Kobe and his wife, Vanessa loved each other.

Kobe and Vanessa released a statement on social media on January 11, 2013, to the huge relief of many fans who had prayed that they remain together.

The Day Kobe Bryant Died

January 26th, 2020 is a day most basketball fans around the world will not forget in a hurry. It was a Sunday, and the day the great Kobe Bryant died. Early that day around 7 am, Kobe and his family had attended Sunday mass at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, which was located in Newport Beach, California. Shortly after the mass, he decided to visit the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks and watch a basketball game there alongside his daughter, Gianna. Mamba Academy is one of Kobe’s establishments.

Kobe, who was an avid user of helicopters, decided to go to Mamba Academy by air. He and his daughter and 7 other persons boarded a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, and the aircraft departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, at about 9:06 a.m. However, they would never alight because minutes later by 9:45 a.m., the helicopter crashed into a mountainside in Calabasas, California, killing everybody on board.

The exact cause of the tragic accident has not been established especially because the helicopter did not have a black box in it. The news of Kobe Bryant’s death alongside his daughter and 7 other persons sent shock waves around the world. No one saw the tragedy coming. It was never something that anyone thought of, and it left a sour taste in the mouth of millions around the world.

His wife penned a heartfelt message on Instagram days after the sad incident:

View this post on Instagram

My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality. To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org. Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba #Mambacita #GirlsDad #DaddysGirls #Family ❤️

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant 🦋 (@vanessabryant) on

The Last Thing He Wrote on Social Media

Just hours before he died, Kobe Bryant posted a message on social media and it turned out this would be his last ever post online. The message was for Lebron James, an American professional basketball player.

Earlier on Saturday, Lebron James had surpassed Kobe as the third all-time highest scorer in NBA history so Kobe took to social media to hail Lebron James. “On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next.” he wrote

Kobe and Lebron James were very close, and the fact that Kobe’s last ever message on social media was for James is quite surreal.

What Kobe Bryant Will Be Remembered For

Kobe Bryant will be remembered as one of the most successful basketball players to have walked the earth. For many years, he was known to be one of the most competitive players on the basketball court as he stopped at nothing to achieve results even when he is sick or injured. He has been named ‘best player of his generation’ and ‘player of the decade’ by Reuters and Sporting News, respectively. He even had his jersey numbers 8 and 24 retired by the Los Angeles Lakers in honor of his legacy.

Kobe is also remembered for being a most adoring father and husband anyone could wish for. Videos and photos of him having awesome times with his daughters and wife have flooded the internet since his sad passing, and they all point to one thing; he loved his family more than anything else. His devotion to his family has been admired all around the world.

Kobe’s penchant for business and smartness has also been widely discussed as well by fans and commentators. It is believed that he was one of the most visionary human beings who knew exactly what he wanted and went for it regardless of what anyone thought about him. In the end, he conquered the world and left it as a legend!

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