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"Kobe Bean Bryant" (born ) is an American All-Star shooting guard who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. Bryant is the only son of former Philadelphia 76ers player and former Los Angeles Sparks head coach Joe 'Jellybean' Bryant. His parents named him after the famous beef of Kobe, Japan, which they saw on a restaurant menu.
Bryant and then-teammate Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. Since O'Neal's departure following the 2003-04 season, Bryant has become the cornerstone of the Lakers franchise, and was the NBA's leading scorer during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. In 2006, Bryant scored a career high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second highest number of points scored in a single game in NBA history.Read Full Bio >>
Bryant was awarded the season's MVP in the 2007-08 NBA season after leading his team to the 2008 NBA Finals as the first seed in the Western Conference. In 2008, he won a gold medal as a member of the 2008 Summer Olympics U.S. Men's Basketball Team, occasionally referred to as 'The Redeem Team,' a play on the name of the first Olympic team that featured NBA players, the Dream Team.
In 2003, Bryant made headlines when he was accused of sexual assault at a hotel in Edwards, Colorado by a hotel employee. Bryant admitted an adulterous sexual encounter with the accuser, but denied the sexual assault allegation. In September 2004, prosecutors dropped the case after his accuser informed them that she was unwilling to testify. Bryant's accuser brought a separate civil suit against him that was ultimately settled out of court.
Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest child and only son of Joe and Pam Bryant.
When Bryant was six, his father left the NBA, moved his family to Italy, and started playing professional basketball there. Bryant became accustomed to the lifestyle there and learned to speak fluent Italian. At an early age, he learned to play soccer and his favorite team was AC Milan. He has said that if he had stayed in Italy, he would have tried to become a professional soccer player. Bryant is a big fan of former FC Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard and their former player Ronaldinho.
In 1991, the Bryants moved back to the United States. Bryant earned national recognition during a spectacular high school career at Lower Merion High School in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion. His SAT score of 1080 would have ensured his basketball scholarship to various top-tier colleges. Ultimately, however, the 17-year-old Bryant made the decision to go directly into the NBA. Bryant has stated that had he decided to go to college after high school, he would have attended Duke University.
1996 NBA Draft
Before Bryant was chosen as the 13th overall draft pick by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, he refused to play for anyone but the Los Angeles Lakers. According to Arn Tellem, Bryant's agent at the time, Bryant playing for the Charlotte Hornets was 'an impossibility'. Nevertheless, the Charlotte Hornets selected Bryant, seeing that there was a chance to trade with the Lakers. On July 1, 1996, then L.A. general manager Jerry West traded his starting center, Vlade Divac, to the Hornets in exchange for Bryant's draft rights.
First three seasons (1996–99)
During his first season, Bryant mostly came off the bench behind guards Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. Initially, Bryant played limited minutes, but as the season continued, he began to see some more playing time. He earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan-favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest.
In Bryant's second season, he received more playing time and began to show more of his abilities as a talented young guard. Bryant was the runner-up for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award, and through fan voting, he also became the youngest NBA All-Star starter. The 1998-99 season marked Bryant's emergence as starting guards Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones were traded. The results, however, were no better, as the Lakers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semi-finals.
Championship years (1999–2002)
Bryant's fortunes would soon change when Phil Jackson became coach for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999. After years of steady improvement, Bryant had become one of the premier shooting guards in the league, a fact that was evidenced by his annual presence in the league's All-NBA, All-Star, and All-Defensive teams. The Los Angeles Lakers became premier championship contenders under Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, who formed an outstanding center-guard combination. Jackson utilized the triangle offense he used to win six championships with the Chicago Bulls, which helped both Bryant and O'Neal rise to the elite class of the NBA. Their NBA championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002 proved such a fact.
Post-Championship years (2002–04)
In the 2002-03 NBA season, Bryant averaged 30 points per game and embarked on a historic run, posting 40 or more points in nine consecutive games while averaging 40.6 in the entire month of February. In addition, he averaged 6.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, all career highs up to that point. For the first time in his career Bryant was voted on to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive 1st teams. After finishing 50-32 in the regular season, the Lakers floundered in the playoffs and lost in the Western Conference semi-finals to the eventual NBA champions San Antonio Spurs in six games.
In the following 2003-04 NBA season, the Lakers were able to acquire NBA All Stars Karl Malone, and Gary Payton to make another push at the NBA Championship. Before the season began, Bryant was arrested for sexual assault. However, with a starting lineup of four future Hall of Famer, O'Neal, Malone, Payton, and Bryant, the Lakers were able to reach the NBA Finals. In the Finals, they were eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in 5 games. In that series, Bryant averaged 22.6 points per game and 4.4 assists. He shot a mere 35.1% from the field. Phil Jackson's contract as coach was not renewed, and Rudy Tomjanovich took over. Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant. The following day, Bryant declined an offer to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers and re-signed with the Lakers on a seven-year contract.
Departure of Shaquille O'Neal (2004–07)
Bryant was closely scrutinized and criticized during the 2004-05 season with his reputation badly damaged from all that had happened over the previous year. This first season without O'Neal would prove to be a rocky one.
A particularly damaging salvo came from Phil Jackson in "The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul". The book detailed the events of the Lakers' tumultuous 2003-04 season and has a number of criticisms of Bryant. In the book Jackson called Bryant 'uncoachable'.
Then, midway through the season, Rudy Tomjanovich suddenly resigned as Lakers coach, citing the recurrence of health problems and exhaustion. Without Tomjanovich, stewardship of the remainder of the Lakers' season fell to career assistant coach Frank Hamblen. Despite the fact that Bryant was the league's second leading scorer at 27.6 points per game, the Lakers floundered and missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. This year signified a drop in Bryant's overall status in the NBA, as he did not make the NBA All-Defensive Team and was also demoted to the All-NBA Third Team.
The 2005-06 NBA season would mark a crossroads in Bryant's basketball career. Despite past differences with Bryant, Phil Jackson returned to coach the Lakers. Bryant endorsed the move, and by all appearances, the two men worked together well the second time around, leading the Lakers back into the playoffs. The team posted a 45-37 record, an eleven-game improvement over the previous season, and the entire squad seemed to be clicking.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Lakers played well enough (3–1 series lead) to come within six seconds of eliminating the second-seeded Phoenix Suns. The Lakers lost that game 107 to 96. Despite Bryant's 27.8 points per game in the series, the Lakers broke down, and ultimately fell to the Suns in seven games. In the 2006 off-season, Bryant had knee surgery, preventing him from participating in the 2006 FIBA World Championship tournament.
Bryant's individual scoring accomplishments posted resulted in the finest statistical season of his career. On December 20 2005, Bryant scored 62 points in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. Entering the fourth quarter, Bryant had, by himself, outscored the entire Mavericks team 62-61, the only time a player has done this through three quarters since the advent of the 24-second shot clock. When the Lakers faced the Miami Heat on January 16 2006, Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal made headlines by engaging in handshakes and hugs before the game, signifying the end of the feud that had festered between the two players since O'Neal's departure from Los Angeles. A month later, at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, the two laughed and joked together on several occasions. On January 22, 2006, Bryant scored 81 points in a 122-104 victory against the Toronto Raptors. In addition to breaking the previous franchise record of 71 set by Elgin Baylor, his point total in that game was the second highest in NBA history, surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962.
In that same month, Bryant also became the first player since 1964 to score 45 points or more in four consecutive games, joining Chamberlain and Baylor as the only players ever to do so. For the month of January, Bryant averaged 43.4 points per game, the eighth highest single month scoring average in NBA history and highest for any player other than Chamberlain. By the end of the season, Bryant set Lakers single-season franchise records for most 40-point games (27) and most points scored (2,832). He won the league's scoring title for the first time, posting a scoring average of (35.4). Bryant finished in fourth place in the voting for the 2006 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, but received 22 first place votes-second only to winner Steve Nash.
Later in the season, it was reported that Bryant would change his jersey number from 8 to 24 at the start of the 2006-07 NBA season. Bryant's first high school number was 24 before he switched to 33. After the Lakers' season ended, Bryant said on TNT that he wanted 24 as a rookie, but it was unavailable, as was 33, retired with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bryant wore 143 at the Adidas ABCD camp, and chose 8 by adding those numbers.
During the 2006-07 season, Bryant was selected to his 9th All-Star Game appearance, and on February 18, he logged 31 points, 6 assists, and 6 steals, earning his second career All-Star Game MVP trophy.
Over the course of the season, Bryant became involved in a number of on court incidents. On January 28 while attempting to draw contact on a potential game winning jumpshot, he flailed his arm striking San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili in the face with his elbow. Following a league review, Bryant was suspended for the subsequent game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. The basis given for the suspension was that Bryant had performed an 'unnatural motion' in swinging his arm backwards. Later, on March 6, he seemed to repeat the motion, this time striking Minnesota Timberwolves guard Marko Jari?. On March 7, the NBA handed Bryant his second one-game suspension. In his first game back on March 9, he elbowed Kyle Korver in the face which was retrospectively re-classified as a Type 1 flagrant foul.
On March 16, Bryant scored a season-high 65 points in a home game against the Portland Trail Blazers, which helped end the Lakers 7-game losing streak. This was the second best scoring performance of his 11-year career. The following game, Bryant recorded 50 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves, after which he scored 60 points in a road win against the Memphis Grizzlies-becoming the second Laker to score three straight 50-plus point games, a feat not seen since Michael Jordan last did it in 1987. The only other Laker to do so was Elgin Baylor, who also scored 50+ in three consecutive contests in December 1962. In the following day, in a game against the New Orleans Hornets, Bryant scored 50 points, making him the second player in NBA history to have 4 straight 50 point games behind Wilt Chamberlain, who is the all-time leader with seven consecutive 50 point games twice. Bryant finished the year with a total of ten 50-plus point games, becoming the only player beside Wilt Chamberlain in 1961-62 and 1962-63 to do so in one season. He also won his second straight scoring title that season.
During the 2006-07 season, Bryant's jersey became the top selling NBA jersey in the United States and China. A number of journalists have attributed the improved sales to Bryant's new jersey number, as well as his continuing All-Star performance on the court. In the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers were once again eliminated in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.
MVP year (2007–2008)
On May 27, 2007, ESPN reported that Bryant stated that he wanted to be traded if Jerry West did not return to the team with full authority. Bryant later confirmed his desire for West's return to the franchise, but denied stating that he would want to be traded if that does not occur. However, three days later, on Stephen A. Smith's radio program, Bryant expressed anger over a Lakers 'insider' who claimed that Bryant was responsible for Shaquille O'Neal's departure from the team, and publicly stated, 'I want to be traded.' Three hours after making that statement, Bryant stated in another interview that after having a conversation with head coach Phil Jackson, he has reconsidered his decision and backed off his trade request. On December 23 2007, Bryant became the youngest player (29 years, 122 days) to reach 20,000 points, in a game against the New York Knicks, in Madison Square Garden.
Despite an injury to his shooting hand's small finger, described as 'a complete tear of the radial collateral ligament, an avulsion fracture, and a volar plate injury at the MCP joint' that occurred in a game on February 5, 2008, Bryant played all 82 games of the regular season instead of opting for surgery. Regarding his injury, he stated, 'I would prefer to delay any surgical procedure until after our Lakers season, and this summer's Olympic Games. But, this is an injury that and the Lakers' medical staff will just have to continue to monitor on a day-to-day basis.' In September 2008 Bryant decided not to have surgery to repair the injury.
Leading his team to a West best 57-25 record, they swept the Nuggets in the first round and on May 6, 2008, Bryant was officially announced as the NBA Most Valuable Player award, his first for his career. He said, 'It's been a long ride. I'm very proud to represent this organization, to represent this city.' Jerry West, who was responsible for bringing Bryant to the Lakers was on hand at the press conference to observe Bryant receive his MVP trophy from NBA commissioner David Stern. He stated, 'Kobe deserved it. He's had just another great season. Doesn't surprise me one bit.' In addition to winning his MVP award, Bryant was the only unanimous selection to the All-NBA team on May 8, 2008 for the third straight season and sixth time in his career. He would then headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team with Kevin Garnett, receiving 52 points overall including 24 first-place nods, earning his eighth selection.
The Lakers concluded the 2007-08 regular season with a 57-25 record, finishing first in the Western Conference and setting up themselves for a first-round contest against the Nuggets. In Game 1, Bryant, who said he made himself a decoy through most of the game, scored 18 of his 32 points in the final 8 minutes to keep Los Angeles safely ahead. That made Denver the first 50-win team to be swept out of the first round of the playoffs since the Memphis Grizzlies fell in four to the San Antonio Spurs in 2004. In the first game of the next round against the Jazz, Bryant scored 38 points as the Lakers beat the Jazz in Game 1. The Lakers won the next game as well, but dropped Games 3 and 4, even with Bryant putting up 33.5 points per game. The Lakers then won the next two games to win the semifinals in 6. This set up a Western Conference Finals berth against the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers defeated the Spurs in 5 games, sending them to the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. This marked the fifth time in Bryant's career and the first time without Shaquille O'Neal to go to the NBA Finals. The Lakers then lost to the Boston Celtics in 6 games.
Bryant's senior international career with the United States national team began in 2006. He was a member of the 2007 USA Men's Senior National Team and USA FIBA Americas Championship Team that finished 10–0, won gold and qualified the United States men for the 2008 Olympics. He started in all 10 of the USA's FIBA Americas Championship games. He is ranked third on the team for made and attempted free throws, ranked fourth for made field goals, made 3-pointers. Among all FIBA Americas Championship competitors, Bryant is ranked 15th in scoring, 14th in assists, and eighth in steals. Scored in double-digits in eight of 10 games. He drained the game winner on a jumper above the foul line with second left in the game. He currently averages a .530 shooting percentage, with 16.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 3.1 assists.
As a part of his international expansion, he is also featured in a Chinese reality TV show, called the "Kobe Mentu" show, which documents Chinese basketball players on different teams going through drills, preparing to play each other while Bryant gives advice and words of encouragement to the players while they practice.
On June 23, 2008, he was named to the USA Men's Senior National Team for the 2008 Summer Olympics. This was his first time going to the Olympics.
Bryant scored 20 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, along with six assists, as Team USA defeated Spain 118-107 in the Gold Medal Game of the 2008 Summer Olympics on August 24, 2008, breaking their drought of Olympics gold medals dating back to the 2000 Olympics. He averaged 15.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting .462 from the field in eight Olympic contests.
Bryant is a shooting guard who is capable of playing the small forward position. He is considered one of the most complete players in NBA history, has been elected to every All-NBA Team since 1999, and has been featured in the last ten NBA All-Star games. He is a prolific scorer, averaging 25.0 points per game for his career, along with 4.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. He is known for his ability to create shots for himself, and is an adept outside shooter, sharing the single-game NBA record for three pointers made with twelve. He has exceptional ballhandling skills and utilizes his speed and athletic ability to elude defenders to finish at the basket. Aside from this, he is also a standout defender, having made the All-Defensive 1st or 2nd Team 8 of the last 9 seasons. After having been represented by Tellem, Kobe has become represented by Rob Pelinka.
Sexual assault allegation
In the summer of 2003, the sheriff's office of Eagle, Colorado arrested Kobe Bryant in connection with an investigation of a sexual assault complaint filed by 19-year old hotel employee Katelyn Faber. Bryant had checked into The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera hotel in Eagle, Colorado in advance of undergoing knee surgery nearby. Faber accused Bryant of raping her in his hotel room the night before Bryant was to have the procedure. Bryant admitted an adulterous sexual encounter with his accuser, but denied her sexual assault allegation.
The accusation tarnished Bryant's reputation, as the public's perception of Bryant plummeted, and his endorsement contracts with McDonald's, Nutella, and Ferrero SpA were terminated. Sales figures from NBA merchandisers indicate that sales of Bryant's replica jersey fell far off from their previous highs.
During the investigation, Bryant told police that 'he should have done what Shaq does ... that Shaq would pay his women not to say anything' and that O'Neal already had paid up to $1 million 'for situations like this.' This created controversy because Bryant and O'Neal were teammates at the time and many thought that Bryant broke 'locker-room code' by revealing confidential information.
However, in September 2004 the assault case was dropped by prosecutors after Faber refused to testify in the trial. Afterwords, Bryant agreed to 'apologize' to the victim for the incident, including his public mea culpa: 'Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.' Faber filed a separate civil lawsuit against Bryant, which the two sides ultimately settled with the specific terms of the settlement being undisclosed to the public. Bryant's endorsement deals resumed again with certain companies like Nike, Spalding, and Coca-Cola.
In November 1999, 21 year old Bryant met 17 year old Vanessa Laine while she was working as a background dancer on the Tha Eastsidaz music video "G'd Up". Bryant was in the building working on his debut musical album, which was never released.
The two began dating and became engaged just six months later in May 2000, while Laine was still a senior at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California. To avoid media scrutiny, she finished high school through independent study. According to Vanessa's cousin Laila Laine, there was no prenuptial agreement. Vanessa said Bryant "loved her too much for one".
They married on April 18, 2001 in Dana Point, California. Neither Bryant's parents, his two sisters, longtime advisor and agent Arn Tellem, nor Bryant's Laker teammates attended. Bryant's parents were opposed to the marriage for a number of reasons. Reportedly Bryant's parents had problems with him marrying so young, especially to a woman who was not African-American. This disagreement resulted in an estrangement period of over two years, during which Kobe Bryant did not have any contact with his parents.
The Bryants' first child, a daughter named Natalia Diamante Bryant, was born on January 19, 2003. The birth of Natalia influenced Bryant to reconcile his differences with his parents. Vanessa Bryant suffered a miscarriage due to an ectopic pregnancy in the spring of 2005. Their second daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, was born on May 1, 2006. Gianna was born 6 minutes ahead of former teammate Shaquille O'Neal's daughter Me'arah Sanaa, who was born in Florida. In an early 2007 interview, it was revealed that Bryant still speaks Italian fluently.
In high school, Bryant was a member of a rap group called CHEIZAW, named after the Chi Sah gang in the martial arts film Kid with the Golden Arm. The group was signed by Sony Entertainment, but the company's ultimate goal was to eliminate the group and have Bryant record on his own. The label wanted to capitalize on Bryant's youth and NBA fame. He performed at a 1997 concert by Sway & King Tech and recorded a verse for a remix of Brian McKnight's "Hold Me". Bryant even appeared on Lakers teammate O'Neal's Respect, starting the track "3 X's Dope", though Bryant's name was not listed on the credits.
Sony pushed Bryant from his roots of underground hip hop into a more radio-friendly sound. His debut album, Visions, was scheduled to release in the spring of 2000. The first single, "K.O.B.E'", featured supermodel Tyra Banks singing the hook. The single debuted in January 2000, and was performed at NBA All-Star Weekend that month; the song was not well received. Sony abandoned plans for the album, which was never released, and dropped Bryant later that year. The Sony president who originally signed Bryant had already left, and Bryant's other backers had mostly abandoned him. Afterwards, Bryant co-founded an independent record label, Heads High Entertainment, but it folded within a year.
In 2011, Bryant was featured in Taiwanese singer Jay Chou's single, "The Heaven and Earth Challenge". The proceeds for downloads of both the single and ringtones were donated to impoverished schools for basketball facilities and equipment. The music video of the single also features Bryant. The song was also used by Sprite in its 2011 marketing campaign in China.
In 2009, rapper Lil Wayne titled a song "Kobe Bryant". Similarly, in 2010, the rapper Sho Baraka released a song called "Kobe Bryant On’em", which was featured in his album Lions and Liars.
Bryant is the official ambassador for After-School All-Stars (ASAS), an American non-profit organization that provides comprehensive after-school programs to children in 13 US cities. Bryant also started the Kobe Bryant China Fund which partnered with the Soong Ching Ling Foundation, a charity backed by the Chinese government. The Kobe Bryant China Fund raises money within China earmarked for education and health programs. On November 4, 2010, Bryant appeared alongside Zach Braff at the Call of Duty: Black Ops launch event at the Santa Monica Airport, where they presented a $1 million check to the Call of Duty Endowment, an Activision-founded nonprofit organization that helps veterans transition to civilian careers after their military service has ended.
Career highlights and awards
Men's basketball (Competitor for the United States)
Gold 2008 Beijing Men's basketball
Gold 2012 London Men's basketball
FIBA Americas Championship:
Gold 2007 Las Vegas Men's basketball
Kobe Bryant, Wife Vanessa Bryant and Daughter Natalia Bryant Attend the MLB Game Between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on July 23, 2005
Kobe Bryant Press Conference in Response to Alleged Felony Sexual Assualt Charges
5th Annual United Way HomeWalk at Exposition Park in Los Angeles
Kobe Bryant and Turkish Airlines Celebrate First Ever Non-Stop Flight from LAX to Istambul's Ataturk Airport at Paramount Studios in Hollywood on March 3, 2011
T-Mobile Magenta Carpet At The 2011 NBA All-Star Game
Kobe Bryant Hand and Footprint Ceremony Afterparty at Boulevard 3 in Hollywood on February 19, 2011