Kobe Bryant, born August 23rd, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A professional basketball player who dedicated his entire career to one club, the Los Angeles Lakers. He joined the purple and gold in 1996 straight out of high school and retiring from the professional game some twenty years later in 2016 where he amassed a total of 1,346 games.
Bryant was the natural heir to the immortal Michael Jordan, a free-scoring assassin who could rip a defender’s heart out by way of a devastating dunk, or an elusive fadeaway jump shot, his trademark work of art. His approach to the game made him a serial winner.
He craved competition and this often made him ruthless to his underperforming team-mates. He was criticized for his selfishness and knocked him for not passing the ball more often. He embraced all the criticism coming his way because it was just who he was.
It was an approach he lived with. An approach that required extreme focus, discipline and enthusiasm for taking on all comers.
His talent was obvious from an early age and he was already attracting national attention while still in high school. After two very slow seasons with the big boys, he became one of the most exciting and intriguing players in the sport and played a major role in the NBA’s international expansion over his two decades in the league.
Bryant retired from the game nearly four years ago as the third leading scorer in NBA history, ending two decades in purple and gold as a feared prolific shooter and a relentless competitive nature that inspired many. He held that No.3 spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when he was surpassed by another Lakers icon LeBron James during a game in Philadelphia.
Kobe didn’t just dominate the game of basketball. He inspired an entire generation of NBA stars- becoming a mentor to young players and a role model to many more, even outside the basketball world. Such was his swift rise to global stardom, he eventually teamed up with several huge brands throughout his glittering career, having been signed by Nike and fast food brand McDonald’s early in his career.
For 20 whole seasons, Kobe showed the NBA world nothing is impossible when talent is blended with hard work and sheer determination with an infinite drive to settle for nothing less than the very top. He most one of the most remarkable players to ever grace the game of Basketball with a series of accomplishments that are just mythical: five NBA Championships, and NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.
After his official retirement in 2016, he quickly started becoming successful in his business ventures such as Kobe Inc which he launched in 2014. He also moved into the media where he won an Oscar for a short film entitled ‘Dear Basketball’ which was based on a poem he wrote following his retirement from the game.
He will be remembered most not for his collection of medals and trophies, but for his charisma and compelling ability to inspire people around the world to enjoy the sport they cherished most and compete to the very best of their ability.
He went from being the new raw young talent around the block and becoming one of the sport’s greatest ever players, on making it his mission to pass on his wisdom and experience to the future generation of players in the game.
Bryant played all 20 seasons of his NBA career on the Lakers, collecting five championships, two NBA finals MVP awards, two scoring titles, 15 All-NBA Selections, 12 All-Defensive selections, 18 All-Star nods and a league MVP.