Kobe Bryant is an American basketball superstar who plays the shooting guard position for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was born on August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia to Joe and Pamela Bryant. Joe Bryant was also a basketball player who played with the Philadelphia 76ers, the San Diego Clippers, and the Houston Rockets before moving to Italy to play for Italian leagues. Kobe spent his boyhood in Italy but he kept up his passion for American basketball.
The family moved back to the U.S. in 1991 where Bryant studied at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia. He joined his high school basketball team, where he had an outstanding record, and led his team to their first state championship victory in 53 years. He received several honors during his high school career, including Naismith High School Player of the Year, Gatorade Men’s National Basketball Player of the Year, McDonald’s All-American Team, and USA Today All-USA First Team player. He went to the prom with the R&B singer Brandy, but the two were not ever romantically involved.
Despite good grades, SAT scores and offers from several colleges, Bryant chose to play for the NBA straight out of high school, rather than going to college. He was originally drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, but traded to the LA Lakers shortly. He signed his contract at the age of 17, as a result of which his parents had to co-sign as his guardians until he came of age. At the time, he was the youngest player ever to play in an NBA game, and also the youngest NBA starter. He was named the winner of the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, the youngest player to have won this honor at 18 years of age. At the age of 19, he was voted as a starter for the 1998 All-Star game, which made him the youngest All-Star in NBA history.
Phil Jackson became the Los Angeles Lakers’ coach in 1999, and under his guidance, Bryant became one of the leading NBA shooting guards, forming an invincible duo with his teammate Shaquille O’Neal, with whom he later had a falling out. His team won three back to back NBA