Known to the world as one of the best NBA players to have graced the court and referred to as The Black Mamba, Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest players to wear an NBA uniform. Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for all 20 seasons of his career and led the team to five NBA titles.
Bryant, born Aug. 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, PA, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, in Calabasas, California, at the age of 41 alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna” Gigi” Bryant and seven others.
Wearing the number 24, Bryant was a shooting guard, and an 18-time All-Star and two-time NBA MVP. Bryant averaged 25 points a game in his career and ended as the NBA’s fourth-highest scorer of all time and the NBA’s first guard to play for 20 seasons.
Bryant started his career with the Lakers in 1996. He was the youngest person ever to play in an NBA game. Bryant was just 17-years-old when he signed with the Lakers, but he didn’t play in an official NBA game till he was 18.
In April 2001, Bryant married 19-year-old Vanessa Laine, and the two stayed married through all their trials and tribulations.
The basketball legend partnered with the nonprofit After-School All-Stars as part of the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. He also ran an annual summer camp called the Kobe Basketball Academy.
In November 2015, he announced that he would retire at the end of the season. On Apr. 13, 2016, Bryant sold-out the Staples Center and gave fans everywhere a magnificent performance in the last game of his career, scoring 60 points and leading the Lakers to a win against the Utah Jazz.
Bryant leaves behind his wife and three daughters Natalia Diamante, 17, Bianka Bella, 3, and Capri Kobe, 7-months. His parents Joe “Jellybean” Bryant and Pam Bryant, along with his two sisters Sharia and Shaya Bryant.
A public memorial service will be held Monday, Feb. 24, at 10 a.m., in Downtown Los Angeles, at the Staples Center.