In 1996, he was drafted into the ‘National Basketball Association’ (NBA) by the ‘Charlotte Hornets,’ before he was traded to play for the ‘Los Angeles Lakers’ team. So, he did not join college and embarked on his sports career.
In the 1996-97 ‘NBA’ season, Bryant played well and created a record by becoming the youngest player ever to play in an ‘NBA’ game.
In the ‘All-Star weekend,’ held in February 1997, he won the ‘Slam Dunk Contest’ and registered his name as the youngest player to win this championship. His remarkable performances during the year got him a place in the ‘NBA All Rookie’ second team.
In the 1997-98 ‘NBA’ season, he performed better than the previous season and was voted the ‘NBA All-Star’ starter. He was the youngest ‘NBA’ player to receive this honor.
In the following season, Bryant played exceptionally well and established himself as a premier guard in the league. During the same time, he entered into a contract with the ‘Lakers’ team which extended for six years.
In 1999, the former American basketball player Phil Jackson was appointed as the coach of the ‘Lakers’ team and this helped Bryant improve his skills in basketball. He excelled as a shooting guard in the league and played with the ‘All-Star,’ ‘All-NBA,’ and ‘All-Defensive’ teams. This popular basketball player led his team to victory and they became champions from 2000 to 2002.
In the 2002–03 season, the ‘Lakers’ could not make it to the finals after their loss to the ‘San Antonio Spurs.’
Kobe could not take part in the initial matches of the 2003-04 NBA season, but when he resumed, he led his team to the finals and even won the ‘Pacific Division’ title. However, they lost to the ‘Detroit Pistons’ team.
The same year, Rudy Tomjanovich was appointed as the new coach of the ‘Lakers’ team and Kobe signed a seven-year contract with the ‘Lakers.’ The season which followed was not a successful one, both for the team and Bryant. ‘Lakers’ lost the playoffs which had not happened in years. Moreover, coach Rudy resigned from his post.
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The 2005-06 ‘NBA’ season was a season of revival for the ‘Lakers.’ The team was once again under the guidance of Coach Phil Jackson, and the two important team members of ‘Lakers,’ Kobe and Shaquille, made peace with their differences. The team was back into the playoffs.
In January 2006, Kobe scored 81 points in a game against the ‘Toronto Raptors.’ He also scored well in the following four games, becoming the first player to score 45 points or more in four consecutive games. His team too improved in comparison to the earlier season, although they did not win the season.
In the 2006-07 ‘NBA’ season, he performed well and even got selected to the ‘All-Star Game’ for the ninth time. He also got the ‘All-Star Game MVP Trophy’ for the second time. However, his team lost the playoffs 4-1 to the ‘Phoenix Suns.’
In December 2007, he created a record of being the youngest player to reach 20,000 points. The record was later broken by LeBron James. The following year, he represented the ‘U.S. men’s national basketball team’ and won a gold medal at the ‘Olympics.’ He was also bestowed with the ‘NBA Most Valuable Player’ award.
In the 2007-08 ‘NBA’ season, the ‘Lakers’ reached the finals but lost to the ‘Boston Celtics.’
The ‘Lakers’ had a good start at the 2008-09 ‘NBA’ season and Bryant’s performance won him ‘All-Star Game’ as a starter. He was also made the ‘Western Conference Player of the Month’ for December and January.
The ‘Lakers’ registered a win at the 2009 ‘NBA Finals’ and Kobe won his first ‘NBA Final MVP’ trophy.
In the 2009-10 ‘NBA’ season, he played exceptionally well and broke Jerry West’s record and became the all-time leading scorer in the history of the ‘Los Angeles Lakers’ team.
The 2010 ‘NBA Finals’ was also won by his team ‘Lakers’ and this talented player once again received the ‘NBA Finals MVP Award.’
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The ‘Lakers’ team’s quest for another three-peat was foiled by the ‘Dallas Mavericks’ in the second round of the play-offs. ‘Dallas Mavericks’ went on to win the 2011 ‘NBA Finals.’
In the ‘2012 Summer Olympics,’ he won a gold medal. Kobe has been named the top ‘NBA’ player of the 2000s by the ‘Sporting News’ and ‘TNT.’
In December 2012, he reached 30,000 career points, becoming the first player in ‘NBA’ history to reach this milestone. That season, Mike D’Antoni was appointed as the coach for ‘Lakers.’ Bryant knew Mike D’Antoni from his childhood and had grown close to him when his father was playing in Italy.
After facing severe injuries, Bryant returned to the 2013-14 season. That season, the ‘Lakers’ did not make it to the playoffs, a first since 2005. Bryant faced severe injuries during the 2014-15 season as well.
After a brief recovery, he returned to his 20th season with the ‘Lakers,’ surpassing John Stockton’s record for most seasons with the same team. At the age of 37, Bryant became the oldest player to score 60 or more points in a game. However, ‘The Lakers’ finished their season with their worst record in the franchise’s history.
On 29 November 2015, Bryant announced his retirement through ‘Player’s Tribune’ in a poem titled ‘Dear Basketball,’ expressing his love for the sport since his childhood. He also expressed his love for his favorite team ‘Lakers’ and thanked his fans who helped him grow alongside the sport. He was also the leading vote-getter of the 2016 ‘All-Star’ game with 1.9 million votes ahead of Stephen Curry.
Family, Personal Life & Death
In 2001, he married Vanessa Laine and the couple have four daughters, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, and Capri.
He was accused of sexual assault by a hotel employee. The accusation affected his reputation and made him lose endorsements. However, the prosecutor dropped the case when the accuser failed to appear before the court.
Popular rappers Lil Wayne and Sho Baraka worked on songs named after this basketball player.
He owned the company ‘Kobe Bryant Inc.’ which invests in various emerging sports brands. One of the earliest investments of the company was made in a sports drink brand named ‘BODYARMOR.’
In October 2018, Bryant published his book ‘The Mamba Mentality: How I Play’ which chronicles his career.
Kobe Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, died on January 26, 2020, near Calabasas, California, in a helicopter crash.