The 13th-overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, Kobe was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers on draft night. General manager Jerry West teamed up the high school phenom with Shaquille O'Neal and later with legendary head coach Phil Jackson.
The trio had a little success from 2000 to 2002.
That young kid walked away from a 20-year-career with five NBA championships, 18 NBA All-Star appearances, two NBA Finals MVPs, and the 2008 NBA MVP.
For all his shortcomings, the basketball player could always be counted on to give his all. He was going to outwork and look to embarrass you.
His life was 24/7 hoops until he stopped by a music video set in 1999.
Kobe Bryant's Wife Vanessa Bryant
Kobe Bryant was trying to start a side hustle in the music industry when he stumbled on the music video shoot for "G'd Up" by the Snoop Dogg-led group the Eastsidaz. There, he met 17-year-old high school senior Vanessa Laine, who was a background dancer.
Bryant, then 20, took an interest and the two started dating.
Six months later the couple became engaged. They tied the knot on April 18, 2001 in a ceremony at St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point, California. The NBA star's parents, sisters, advisor, nor Laker teammates were in attendance.
The Lakers legend and Vanessa had four daughters together: Natalia born in 2003; Gianna aka Gigi born in 2006; Bianka born in 2016; and Capri born in 2019.
The couple's oldest daughter Natalia recently signed a modeling contract and was accepted into USC.
The Bryant's relationship was brought into the public eye following Kobe's sexual assault case in Colorado in 2003. Additional attention was drawn when the basketball player bought his wife a $4 million diamond ring.
The NBA player and Vanessa did charity work through Stand Up on Second, My Friend's Place, Make A Wish Foundation, and others. They also donated to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant were killed in a helicopter crash along with seven others near Calabasas, California in January 2020. The NBA legend's death shook the sports world just months before the coronavirus pandemic dominated last year.
NBA teams from New York to San Francisco paid tribute by taking a shot-clock violation to start play on the tragic day. Lakers superstar LeBron James addressed fans before a Jan. 31 basketball game at Staples Center.
A memorial service was held at the downtown Los Angeles arena on February 24, 2020. Michael Jordan, Shaq, Rob Pelinka, and Sabrina Ionescu all spoke. Vanessa closed with a heartbreaking speech that celebrated both her husband's and her daughter's life.
Bryant's widow started the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation — a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating positive impact for undeserved athletes and young women in sports — in loving memory of her late husband and late daughter.
She celebrated Gianna's 15th birthday with a pic on Instagram.
Remembering Kobe Bryant is more than remembering a basketball star. Although, it's fun to look back at his best moments on the court that made for countless ESPN highlights. Like when he came through in the 2009 NBA playoffs or the time he dropped 81 points in a game.
It's remembering a man who was dedicated to his family, it's remembering a man who won an Oscar, it's remembering a man who made mistakes, it's remembering a human being.
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