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Kobe Bryant

Went Pro After High School, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Related Biography: Basketball Player Joe "jellybean" Bryant


American basketball player

One of basketball's biggest talents, Kobe Bryant rose to fame as a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers in the

Kobe Bryant

late 1990s and early 2000s. Together with his superstar teammate, the center Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant led the Lakers to their consecutive 2000, 2001, and 2002 National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship titles. One of the NBA's youngest players, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Bryant caused a stir by skipping college and turning pro just out of high school at age eighteen. By 1998 he made history as basketball's youngest All-Star player, and by the early 2000s sports critics and fans were comparing him to two legendary guards: Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. A rap singer as well as a basketball star, Bryant released a single, K.O.B.E. (Sony Records), in 2000.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 23, 1978, Kobe Bryant was the son of basketball star Joe "Jellybean" Bryant and his wife, Pamela. His parents named their son after a type of steak they had seen on a menu before his birth. When he was five years old, Bryant moved with his family to Italy, where his father played professional basketball after retiring from the NBA. Bryant and his two older sisters, Sharia and Shaya, attended parochial schools in Italy and learned to speak Italian.

From as early as he could remember, Bryant wanted to become a basketball player. With a toy hoop in his living room, he played with his father, an eight-year veteran of the NBA with the 76ers, the Clippers, and the Rockets. Every summer his parents took the family back to Philadelphia, where Bryant played basketball on American playgrounds.

At age fourteen, upon his father's retirement from the European leagues, Bryant moved with his family back to the United States. When he started the eighth grade at a Philadelphia school, he could not understand his peers' slang. "The way I was able to make friends is that we played basketball during lunch and after school, and basketball's a universal language," Bryant told Charlie Rose of CBS-TV's 60 Minutes II.

Sketch by Wendy Kagan

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBasketball