Kobe Bryant (August 23, 1978 – January 26, 2020) was a professional basketball player who played for the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers at the position of guard. He entered the NBA draft as a 17-year old immediately after his spectacular high school career at Pennsylvania's Lower Merion High School. He was drafted 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. Bryant had stated before the draft that he refused to play for any team other than Los Angeles, but the Hornets drafted him anyways in the hopes of trading him to the Lakers. Five days after the draft, Bryant was traded to the Lakers for starting center Vlade Divac.
Kobe Bryant has been described as a selfish player:
- It's just that throughout his career, everything has always had to be about himself. If Bryant's not happy with the Lakers, he will let you know about it for sure. It doesn't matter if it's been running down teammates in the media or demanding a trade when not happy. Bryant has always been a selfish player.
When super-coach Phil Jackson was coaching the Lakers, Bryant won three of the four NBA Championships that he appeared in. He has played in ten All-Star games, winning the game MVP twice, in 2002 and 2007. He won back to back scoring titles from 2005-2007. He also scored 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors on January 22, 2006, the second highest single game scoring total in NBA history.
In his personal life, Bryant's most difficult time came in 2004 when he was accused of rape and put on trial for sexual assault. The case was eventually dismissed when the accuser decided against testifying in the case. Throughout the ongoing trial, Bryant, a married man, admitted to having committed adultery but was unequivocal in the fact that the sex was consensual. He and his wife, Vanessa Williams, remained married and together they had four daughters.
Bryant also won his first MVP award in the 2007-2008 season. He won two more NBA championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010 (when super-coach Phil Jackson was running the team) and was named the Finals MVP of both.
After retirement he filmed a documentary, Dear Basketball, which earned him an Academy Award in 2018, making him the first NBA player ever to do so.
On January 26, 2020, Bryant, along with his daughter and seven other people, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.