Former NBA star and legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020, made headlines once again on August 25, 2022, when his widow, Vanessa Bryant, was awarded $16 million as part of a $31 million jury verdict against the Los Angeles County for the deputies and firefighters sharing graphic photos of the NBA star, his teenage daughter and others after the accident.

According to the jurors, the photos invaded the privacy of Kobe Bryant’s widow and caused emotional distress. Vanessa broke down as the verdict was being announced.

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One of the greatest players in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA), former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

Who was Kobe Bryant?

Born on August 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kobe Bryant is regarded arguably as the greatest basketball player of all time. Bryant became interested in basketball from a young age and started playing when he was only three years old. His father, Joe Bryant, was also a former NBA player along with his maternal uncle, John “Chubby” Cox.

Bryant was named after a popular beef of Japan, Kobe and his middle name Bean came from his father’s nickname “Jellybean.”

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The Los Angeles Lakers were the favourite NBA team of Kobe Bryant during his childhood. He travelled extensively with his family as his father retired from the NBA and moved to Italy to continue playing professionally. It was during this time that he began to play the sport seriously, at Reggio Emilia in Italy.

His father played for Olimpia Basket Pistoria between 1987 and 1989, where Kobe worked as a ball boy and mopped the arena while practising shooting during halftime. However, his first big break came during high school, when he played for Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Philadelphia.

Kobe became the first freshman in several decades to start for the Lower Merion team in 1992. In the next three years, he played all five positions and averaged 31.1 points, 5.2 assists, and 10.4 rebounds and was subsequently named Pennsylvania Player of the Year.

He also earned a fourth-team Parade All-American nomination, which helped him to come under the radar of college basketball recruiters. However, he went to the NBA draft instead.

After winning several trophies and recognitions during his high school career, a 17-year-old Kobe became the sixth player in the history of the NBA to join the league directly. In 2012, he became one of the 35 Greatest McDonald’s All-Americans for his high school and further career accomplishments.

Kobe was picked up by the Lakers in the 1996 draft and signed a three-year rookie contract worth $3.5 million. He made his debut in the Summer Pro League in Long Beach, California when he scored 25 points. He also scored 36 points in the final.

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The rookie basketball star mostly made substitution appearances in his first season but became the second-youngest player to play an NBA game at the age of 18 years and 72 days. He later became the youngest player to start an NBA game at the age of 18 years and 158 days. He was included in the All-Rookie Second Team in that season.

He signed a six-year contract extension, worth around $70 million in his second season with the Lakers.

The next years saw him winning five NBA championships while leading the league in several charts and becoming one of the most dangerous scorers in the league. He married Vanessa Laine on April 18, 2001.

He was killed in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, on January 26, 2020.