When people tell you about some of the greatest basketball players in the world, expect that Kobe Bryant will be mentioned.
After all, Kobe entertained fans with his game-winning shots and influenced many people to push their limits. And while his life was short-lived, it was full of memories and achievements that are worth reminiscing.
So, join us as we uncover 30 legendary facts about Kobe Bryant.
Kobe’s father, Joe Bryant, named him after one of the world’s most famous and expensive types of beef.
He had two sisters, Sharia and Shaya Bryant. Sharia is the eldest, while Shaya is the middle sibling, making Kobe the youngest.
Kobe studied and played as a varsity player at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania. He even had a high Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score of 1080 but decided not to pursue college.
In 1996, 17-year-old Kobe Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. He didn’t play a single game with that team, though, as he immediately got traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac, the Californian team’s center during that time.
Kobe never lost a game while playing for Team USA. By the end of his US career, he had won 36 games, 16 of which were in the Olympics.
Aside from English, Kobe was also fluent in Italian, which he learned while living in Italy as a child.
Kobe also learned to speak Spanish by watching telenovelas with his Mexican-American wife and mother-in-law.
Kobe and his wife Vanessa had four daughters: Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, and Capri.
On January 7, 2003, Kobe knocked down 12 three-pointers against the Seattle Supersonics to hold the record for the most three points in a single regular-season game.
Kobe influenced millions of people to incorporate a mindset of always working hard and improving themselves every day. This is famously known as the Mamba Mentality.
In 2014, Kobe invested $6 million in BodyArmor, one of Gatorade‘s competitors, which Coca-Cola eventually bought in 2021 for $5.6 billion.
Before signing with Nike in 2003 to start one of the most successful shoe lines, Kobe first signed a deal with Adidas. However, he didn’t finish the six-year Adidas contract, causing the company to fine him $8 million.
Kobe remains one of the all-time leading scorers in the NBA, with a total of 33,463 career points.
It’s common for kids to honor the legendary basketballer by shouting out his name when throwing crumpled-up bits of paper into the trash.
Kobe was also among the few NBA legends to have a three-peat (or win three straight championships). He did it along with Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most dominant centers ever to play the game.
In 2018, Dear Basketball, a short film written and narrated by Kobe, won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.
Back in 1999, Kobe also pursued a career in rapping by being a part of CHEIZAW, a rap group that got a record deal with Sony’s Urban Music.
From this partnership came his album Visions, featuring rap legends like 50 Cent and Tyra Banks. The album sadly never saw the light of day, as the album’s lead single (K.O.B.E) was a bit of a flop.
Kobe was awarded his first and only NBA regular season MVP on May 6, 2008.
One of Kobe’s iconic performances was against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, wherein he scored a whopping 81 points. That’s the second most points scored by one player in a single NBA game!
Kobe made a surprise appearance at Taylor Swift‘s LA concert in 2015 to honor her 16th sold-out concert at the Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center). This number was special, as the team had a total of 16 NBA titles during that year.
By his mid-30s, Kobe began to be plagued with multiple serious sports-related injuries. This ultimately led to his retirement at the age of 37 after finishing up the 2015-2016 season.
Shaquille O’Neal challenged Kobe to score 50 points in his last career game, so he went and scored 60.
On January 26, 2020, Kobe was involved in a tragic helicopter crash. This accident led to the death of Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people on board.
NBA teams who had games after Kobe’s passing honored him by starting the game with either an 8-second backcourt violation or a 24-second violation.
Kobe and Gianna Bryant were buried on February 7, 2020, at Pacific View Memorial Park in California.
In honor of the late Kobe Bryant, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver decided to rename the All-Star MVP after Kobe Bryant in February 2020. Kobe had won a total of four All-Star MVPs, sharing the record for the most All-Star MVPs with Bob Petitt.
Kobe Bryant was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame on May 15, 2021, where his widow, Vanessa, gave an acceptance speech on his behalf.
Kobe’s life is celebrated on Kobe Bryant Day every August 24. The date chosen relates to the two jersey numbers (8 and 24) he wore for the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the end, Kobe Bryant’s legacy extends far beyond the basketball courts, where he once dazzled audiences with his skill and determination.
From the basketball courts to the Oscars stage, Kobe left an enduring mark on the world. And more importantly, he was a true inspiration for African Americans in sports.
His legacy lives on in every swish of the net, every shout of “Kobe!” in schoolyards, and every heart that beats with the mamba mentality.