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The man, the legend: Remembering five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant
ON Sunday, millions around the world were shocked by the news of the death of National Basketball Association (NBA) star, Kobe Bryant; his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash.
Reports reveal that the 9 passengers on board died in the crash which happened on a hillside in Calabasas, California, USA.
Bryant’s death triggered reactions from all classes of people on social media, including world leaders like Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Atiku Abubakar, who mourned the passing of the Lakers star.
Right before his passing, Bryant last post on Twitter was dedicated to Lebron James, another NBA star, for surpassing his spot on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
The tweet read: “Continuing to move the game forward @Kingjames. Much respect my brother.”
In death, Bryant, to many, remains a legend. Here’s how he attained legendary status:
Born in 1978 to former NBA player, Joe nicknamed Jellybean, Bryant’s early life was spent in Italy where his father played professionally for many years before returning to the United States (US).
Back in the US, young Bryant was enrolled at Lower Merion High School outside Philadelphia and quickly earned a reputation as the best high school basketball player in the country.
He was then drafted and traded to Los Angeles Lakers, where he began his professional career and went on to make his NBA debut in 1996.
Between 2000 and 2010, Bryant, earned five NBA championship wins and in 2006, he scored a career-high 81 points in a single game.
In 2008, he won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and also bagged NBA’s finals MVP award in 2009 and 2010.
In 2008 and 2012, Bryant won Olympic Gold medals as a member of the US national team.
Nicknamed Black Mamba, he was also considered one of the greatest Lakers and basketball players in history, and was named to the NBA All-Star team 18 times.
Beyond the game, the basketballer also made a mark in the movie industry with his debut short film, Dear Basketball, which earned him an Oscar nomination and a win in 2018.
In a tweet, the player acknowledged the support he got from his team and expressed joy over being nominated and eventually winning the Animated short film category.
Dear Basketball, a poem written by the NBA star, was also his announcement on retiring from the game, citing physical decline due to several injuries sustained including a torn achilles tendon.
The family man
Bryant who died alongside his daughter, Gianna, was a proud father of four girls and was happily married to his high school sweetheart, Vanessa Laine.
The couple married in 2001, welcomed their first child in 2003, got briefly divorced in 2011 and reconciled in 2013. They welcomed their fourth child in 2019.