By Ryan Brauner
Three years ago today, five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bean Bryant, along with eight others, fell victim to a helicopter crash in Southern California. Here are ten facts about Kobe Bryant that you may not know on the anniversary of his tragic death.
#1: He was Named After a Japanese Delicacy Choosing baby names is a daunting decision for many. Pam and Joe Bryant, however, had little hesitation naming their youngest son after a Japanese delicacy—Kobe beef. Known for its flavor, marbling, and buttery, smooth texture, Kobe beef was a staple at Pam and Joe’s favorite restaurant. Kobe Bryant also attributes his middle name, “Bean,” to his parents’ passion for food and his father’s love for jelly bean candies.
#2: He Did Not Attend College In 1996, Kobe Bryant entered the NBA draft, hoping to become the sixth player in NBA history to skip college. Following his graduation from Lower Merion high school, Bryant chose to forgo a college education to ensure he would face Michael Jordan in the NBA with looming reports that Jordan’s retirement was on the verge. Following his retirement, Bryant said that if he had attended college, he would have chosen Duke University. Today, the NBA requires those who seek to enter the draft to attend at least one year of college.
#3: He Sued His Parents for Selling His Own Merchandise Yes, you read that correctly. In 2013, when Bryant’s parents were on the hunt for a lavish mansion, they decided to auction off memorabilia he gifted them. The pieces included high school jerseys and even his prized NBA championship ring from 2000. Bryant grew furious and even pursued legal action against his parents, igniting a long feud that ultimately severed their relationship for a great period of time. In fact, Bryant’s parents were a no-show at his wedding.
#4: Kobe Spent Nearly a Decade Living in Italy Despite being born in Philadelphia, PA, Bryant spent a significant portion of his childhood in Tuscany, Italy. From ages six to thirteen, Bryant and his family moved abroad to Italy. By the time he moved back to the U.S. for high school, he was fluent in Italian.
#5: He Is The Only NBA Player To Have Two Jersey Numbers Retired By The Same Team Throughout his career, Bryant won five NBA championships, was elected to 18 All-Star games and won two Slam Dunk Contest titles. Yet perhaps his most prestigious accolade is being history’s only player to have two jersey numbers retired by the same team. On the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe wore both #8 and #24. Shortly after his retirement, the Lakers franchise chose to retire both numbers. Bryant stands alone on this accomplishment.
#6: Basketball is in His Blood It was no surprise that Kobe Bryant turned out to be one of the NBA’s all-time premier players. Bryant came from a family full of professional basketball players. Kobe’s father, Joe Bryant, was picked 14th overall by the Golden State Warriors and went on to lead a 16-year career. His uncle, too, played professionally.
#7: Bryant is The Youngest Starter in All-Star Game History In 1999, Bryant was nominated to serve as a starter in his first NBA All-Star game—a rare occurrence for a rookie. Not only was Bryant a rookie, but he also was and currently remains the youngest player to achieve such an accomplishment in history. He went on to play in 17 more NBA All-Star games in his career.
#8: He Founded His Own Venture Capital Firm In 2013, Bryant joined forces with successful entrepreneur Jeff Stibel to form his own venture capital firm—Bryant Stibel Capital. The duo invested heavily in LegalZoom and Body Armor, recognizing returns more than 333% on these two investments alone. Within six years, the fund had grown to $2 billion.
#9: He Was Initially Drafted to The Charlotte Hornets Most associate Bryant’s legacy with the Los Angeles Lakers. However, few know that Kobe was initially drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets. Bryant had different intentions, though. He expressed no desire to play in Charlotte, forcing the Hornets’ front office to cut their losses and move on. In fact, Kobe never played in a single game for the Hornets.
#10: He Scored 60 Points in His Final Game On April 13, 2016, a 37-year old Kobe Bryant scored a whopping 60 points in the final game of his career. Bryant attempted 50 total shots against the Utah Jazz, making 22 of them. He topped off the legendary performance with a signature game-winning three-point shot with 31 seconds left, carrying his team to victory.