A veteran of basketball, Kobe Bean Byrant has long been the inspiring face of the NBA. His NBA career has had its fair share of scandals, disappointing seasons marred by bitter criticisms and marital mishaps.
Despite this, Kobe Byrant rose to become one of the best players the NBA have ever seen. Many claim to know this basketball icon but do they really? Here are some amazing facts about Kobe Bryant, the ace basketball thespian AKA the Black Mamba.
1. He was named after the Japanese meat, Kobe
Bryant had a lot related to Japan. He was named KOBE after the famous Japanese beef known for its tenderness, and marbled texture. And just like Kobe, aside from being tender and we’ll mannered like the Kobe meat, which is one of the top Japanese beef, Kobe was also one of the very top basketball players to thrill the NBA.
2. His middle name doesn’t appear on any official document
Still on Bryant’s real name. His middle name ‘Bean’ coined from his father nickname ‘Jelly Bean’, who was an ex-basketball player doesn’t appear on Kobe’s birth certificate as well as other related documents.
3. His childhood dream was to play pro-basketball
As a toddler, Bryant grew up in Rieti, Italy following his father’s retirement from the NBA where his father continued playing basketball but at a lower level. At Rieti, Bryant learnt to speak Italian fluently, he often returned to the USA during summer to play basketball.
4. His success in basketball began in high school
Bryant began playing basketball at the age of three, and thus developed his tactics by watching basketball games mailed to him by his grandfather. He eventually returned to his hometown in the year 1991 where he attended Lower Merion High School and quickly progressed through the basketball ranks to lift his team to four consecutive basketball championships earning several honours as well as gathering media attention.
5. He entered the NBA draft straight from high school
Despite scoring 1080 in his SAT, Bryant made the ultimate decision to skip college and go pro straight from high school. With such a score in his SAT as well as his laudable basketball antics, Kobe would have been accepted into any college even the most prestigious.
6. He was a celebrity while in high school
During his high school prom, Bryant dazzled his peers when he brought R&B singer Brandy as his date to his high school prom. It was no surprise to many as Kobe was already a celebrity garnering media attention as a result of his basketball skills.
7. Kobe was the first NBA player to be drafted from high school
Following his decision to enter the 1996 NBA Draft, Bryant was the Charlotte Hornets #13 pick and was thus traded to the Los Angeles Lakers following a prior agreement. Bryant thus became the first NBA guard to be drafted straight from high school.
8. He won the NBA Championship during his first three seasons at Los Angeles Lakers
Bryant’s first three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers were rewarding as he won several honours as well as the NBA championship, but it was not without a bit of drama. Bryant had a feud with one of basketball’s greatest who happened to be Bryant teammates.
9. He Married at the age of 23
In 2001, at the age of 23, Bryant married his then-girlfriend, Vanessa Laine. The duo met in 1999 when he was 21, while Vanessa was 17. Six months later they got engaged and finally tied the nuptial knot two years after they met, without a prenuptial agreement.
10. His parents and siblings opposed his marriage
Bryant’s parents didn’t attend his wedding as well as his two sisters. They didn’t support his decision to marry at such a young age as well as getting married to a non-African American lady. His Los Angeles Lakers teammates were also absent on that day.
11. He changed his jersey number multiple times
During his career, Bryant made jersey number switch twice. He first made the switch from 33 to 24 when he was just drafted into the NBA. His second jersey number switch came in the 2006/07 season from 8 back to 24.
12. His reputation took a hit following rape accusations
The foundations of Bryant marriage was threatened two years after he married when he was accused of rape by a hotel employee. Bryant admitted he had an adulterous encounter with the lady but said he didn’t assault her sexually.
The accusations garnered media attention and affected Kobe Bryant’s reputation negatively. He lost several endorsement deals with top brands such as McDonald’s and Nutella. The ensuing lawsuit was settled out of court later on.
13. Kobe had an unsuccessful music career
Bryant’s interest in music is as deep as his basketball passion. He was a member of a high school band called CHEIZAW who was later signed by Sony Entertainment. He planned to release his first album titled Vision in 2000, but plans for the album was soon abandoned following a commercial failure of the song.
His deal with Sony was eventually cancelled. His pursuit in music didn’t stop there as he featured in “Tian Di Yi Dou” a song by Taiwanese singer Jay Chou which translates “The Heaven and Earth Challenge”.
14. He learnt a lot from the NBA Showtime
Bryant revealed that he learnt how to play basketball well as a child when he was watching NBA Showtime, a television program that showed all the greatest NBA games.
15. He had to choose between soccer and basketball
Bryant was a fan of soccer as a young child, supporting the Italian side, AC Milan. He would have been a soccer player while in Italy if he had not watched the NBA showtime which groomed his interest in basketball.
16. Kobe debuted for the US national side in 2008
After delays in debuting for the US national side, Bryant finally debuted for the US national side at the 2008 Summer Olympics where he helped the US side clinch the Gold medal.
17. He nicknamed himself “Black Mamba” because of the snake’s speed, agility and accuracy
Kobe nicknamed himself ‘Black Mamba’ after he watched Quentin Tarantino’s movie entitled “Kill Bill” where the ‘Black Mamba’ was used as a code word for a deadly mission. Kobe revealed in an interview that he nicknamed himself ‘Black Mamba’ following his off-court struggle in 2003 and 2004.
18. He has a China-based Charity
Bryant has a charity supported by the Chinese government called the Kobe Bryant China Fund which funds education and health programs for kids in China.
19. Kobe’s charity works extend to the US
Bryant is a brand ambassador of After-School All-Stars (ASAS) that provide after school service to children in the US in thirteen states. He is also a brand ambassador for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
20. Kobe got involved in various business ventures after retirement
Following his retirement in the year 2016, Bryant released a book titled The Mamba Mentality: How I Play in 2018. In 2016, Kobe launched a venture capital firm with partner Jeff Stilbel dedicated to funding $100 million in tech, games and media.