Position: Guard

Heigth: 6 foot 7 / 201cms

Weight: 210 pounds / 96 kgs.

Born: August 23, 1978

High School: Lower Merion High School (Pa)

NBA Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Jersey Number: 24

Kobe Bryant was born on August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents, Joe and Pam, already had two girls, Sharia and Shaya. Kobe was their third and final child. Life in the Bryant family was not your normal everyday existence. Joe, a playground legend from Philly’s John Bartram High School, was in the midst of a scattershot pro basketball career that took him to three different countries. After three stellar years at La Salle University, he was drafted in 1975 by the Golden State Warriors. “Jellybean Joe,” a 6-9 forward with the skills of a point guard, never really found his place in the NBA. After the Warriors refused his contract demands, he was dealt to Philadelphia. From there, he bounced from one team to another, appearing in a total of 606 games for the 76ers, Clippers and Rockets and averaging 8.7 points along the way. He also played professionally in Europe.

Kobe grew up eating, sleeping and breathing basketball. A yearafter he was born, Joe was traded to the San Diego Clippers. The Bryants loved being in sunny Southern California. Their neighbors were friendly, and rain rarely forced the kids inside. Kobe developed an intense love of hoops on the West Coast. By his third birthday he was already telling people be would be an NBA star.

In November 1999, 21 year old Kobe met 17 year old Vanessa Laine while she was working as a background dancer on the Tha Eastsidaz/ Snoop Dogg music video " G'd Up " (In the video Vanessa is in the convertible in a silver bikini). Kobe was in the building working on his debut musical album, which was never released.

The two began dating and were engaged just six months later in May 2000, all while Laine was still a senior at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California. Due to the media, she finished high school through independent study.

They married on April 18th,2001 in Dana Point, California. There were only about 12 guests at the wedding. Neither Kobe's parents, nor his two sisters, nor longtime advisor and agent Arn Tellem, nor Kobe's teammates attended. Bryant's parents were opposed to the marriage for a number of reasons. Reportedly Kobe's parents had problems with him marrying so young, especially to a woman who wasn't African-American. This disagreement resulted in an estrangement period of over two years, during which Kobe Bryant did not have any contact with his parents. Finally in Spring 2003 after Kobe's 1st daughter Natalie was born, Kobe and his parents reconciled.

According to Vanessa's cousin Laila Laine, there was no prenuptial agreement. Vanessa said Kobe "loved her too much for one".

The Bryants' first child, a daughter named Natalia Diamante Bryant, was born on Sunday January 19th,2003. The birth of Natalia influenced Bryant to reconcile his differences with his parents: Kobe/Vanessa & Joe/Pam were once again on good terms. Vanessa Bryant suffered a miscarriage due to an ectopic pregnancy in the Spring 2005; and later in Fall 2005 the Bryants announced that they were expecting their second child. Their second daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, was born on Monday May 1st,2006. Interestingly, Gianna was born 6 minutes ahead of of former teammate and rival Shaquille O'Neal's daughter Me'arah Sanaa, who was born in Florida.

In the summer of 1982 the Bryants packed their bags for Houston, after Joe was dealt to the Rockets. Kobe, who was gaining a better understanding of what his dad did for a living, started following the NBA seriously. His favorite player was Magic Johnson, a point guard in a power forward’s body—not unlike Kobe’s dad. The youngster responded to Magic’s flashy style and winning ways, and adopted the Lakers as his favorite pro team.

Kobe sizzled during the 1994-95 season. The junior averaged 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists and was named Pennsylvania Player of the Year. Kobe also unveiled his devastating cross-over dribble during the campaign. He learned the move from God Shammgod, a teammate on his summer AAU squad.

After Kobe’s breakout year, college recruiters from across the country came knocking. The soon-to-be senior boasted excellent grades and SAT scores, so academics would not be an obstacle. At the top of his list were Duke, North Carolina, Villanova and Michigan. But when Chicago schoolboy Kevin Garnett went in the first round of the NBA Draft in June of 1995, Kobe began seriously considering going directly to the pros. That summer, Joe arranged for his son to work out with members of the 76ers, and Kobe was awesome. He also made a big impression on scouts at the ABCD All-America camp at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.

As a senior, Kobe’s sparkling play put Lower Merion on the high-school basketball map. The Aces posted a 32-3 record and captured their first state title in 42 years. The school’s name was in the newspapers constantly, college coaches filled the stands for every game, and coach Downer received invitations to several prestigious tournaments. Kobe finished the year with a scoring average of 30.8 points, pushing his four-year points total to 2,883, which shattered the Pennsylvania record set four decades earlier by Wilt Chamberlain.

The fun really began when the season ended. When an Italian League team approached Joe about becoming its coach, management insisted that his son be part of the deal. Meanwhile, with several other top high school seniors—including Tim Thomas of New Jersey, Lester Earl of Louisiana, and Jermaine O’Neal of South Carolina—thinking about going to the NBA, Kobe did nothing to squelch rumors that he would do the same. The 17-year-old added fuel to the fire when he wowed the scouts at the 1996 Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina.

1996 Draft

Even before he was chosen as the 13th draft pick overall by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, the 18-year-old Bryant had made a lasting impression on then-Lakers general manager Jerry West, who immediately foresaw the potential in Bryant's basketball talent during pre-draft workouts. West stated that Bryant's workout was one of the best he had ever witnessed. West continued his quest to return the Lakers to championship status by trading starting center Vlade Divac to the Hornets for Bryant.

However, Bryant's fortunes would soon change when Phil Jackson became coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. After years of steady improvement, Bryant had become one of the premier shooting guards in the league, a fact that was evidenced by his annual presence in the league's All-NBA, All-Star, and All-Defensive teams. The Los Angeles Lakers became perennial championship contenders under Bryant and O'Neal, who formed an outstanding center-guard combination. Their success gave the Lakers three consecutive NBA championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

When O'Neal was traded, Bryant became the Lakers' unquestioned leader of the team going into the 2004-2005 season. As it turned out, however, his first season at the helm of a team would prove to be a very rocky one. With his reputation so badly damaged from all that had happened over the previous year, Bryant was closely scrutinized and criticized during the season.

A particularly damaging salvo came from Phil Jackson in The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul. The book detailed the sordid events of the Lakers' tumultuous 2003-04 season and hurled numerous harsh criticisms of Bryant. Along with other unsavory adjectives, Jackson called Bryant "uncoachable."

Then, midway through the season, Rudy Tomjanovich suddenly resigned as Lakers coach, citing the recurrence of health problems and exhaustion. Without "Rudy T," stewardship of the remainder of the Lakers' season fell to career assistant coach Frank Hamblen. Despite the fact that Bryant was the league's second leading scorer at 27.6 points per game, the Lakers floundered and missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. This year signified a drop in Bryant's overall status in the NBA by not making the NBA All-Defensive Team and being demoted to All-NBA Third Team.

The 2005-06 NBA season would mark a crossroads in Bryant's basketball career. Despite past differences with Bryant, Phil Jackson returned to coach the Lakers. Bryant endorsed the move, and by all appearances, the two men worked together well the second time around, leading the Lakers back into the NBA Playoffs. The team posted a 45-37 record, a twelve-game improvement over the previous season, and played well enough in the first round of the playoffs to come within a game of eliminating the second-seeded Phoenix Suns before finally falling short. Kobe Bryant was further questioned for his atypical performance in the 2nd half only taking 3 shots in the game 7 in the first round.

Kobe Bryant Autobiography

A little about Kobe Bryant

By Kobe Bryant

I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 23, 1978 to Pamela and Joe Bryant. I have two sisters, Shaya and Sharia, who are both great athletes.

The reason I have the name Kobe is unusual, and I love it. As part of our family lore, my grandmom told me when she first heard my name, she thought, "What in the world were Pam and Joe thinking naming (me) Kobe; perhaps they'll have time to change it before the birth certificate is registered. Maybe they'll give him a more conventional name." I'm happy to report my parents prevailed. My name's international flavor has served me well as I travel the globe playing basketball. I received a letter from Ghana, and the young man who wrote said his father's name is Kobe. Also, last year when I visited Japan, I got to visit the Kobe region, the source of my name. I loved Japan. It was beautiful and majestic, and the people of Kobe, who are still recovering from the earthquake of 1997, were friendly and quite knowledgeable about the NBA.

As a schoolboy, I learned the fundamentals of basketball in Italy, but when I was eight or nine, basketball was not my only sport of choice. I was playing a lot of soccer at that age, too. I loved both sports. I think two things contributed to my choosing to concentrate solely on basketball. One, my annual trips back to Philly to visit with family and friends, and two, my growth spurt beginning around age 11.

In Philly, soccer was not big. Basketball was. The only problem was the play was different on the Philly courts from anything I'd seen in Italy. At first, I didn't understand the school-yard rules, the trash talking, the machismo. But I learned fast how to handle myself playing Philly ball. I'd say the first big jump in my basketball skills occurred from when I was about 11 to age 13. It was at age 13 that I knew I could play with anyone. It was also at this age that I could finally beat my sisters, who are both outstanding basketball and volleyball players. My dad could still handle me, but he started cheating around this time, leaning on me, using his weight advantage to post me up. He cut me no slack. This went on until I was about 14 or 15 years old, when I finally beat my dad one-on-one.

High school was a big transition for me. Our team went from worst to first, to a state championship during my four years at Lower Merion. It was during the summer before my senior year that I knew my dream of going straight to the NBA from High School was a possibility. I put up good stats at the adidas abcd camp and was named High School Player of the Year. I was lucky enough to be able to work out with the 76ers. This came about because Coach Lucas' daughter attended Lower Merion High School, and she casually mentioned to her dad that he ought to see me play. Well, he did, and afterward he allowed me to work out with the 76ers.

From the time I was 10 or 11, I'd dreamed of going straight to the NBA from high school. During the spring and fall of 1996, I knew my dream could come true. It was when I was on the court with NBA players that I began to feel, "This is something I can do. This is possible for me." It was also during this time that I met Joe Carbone, an assistant trainer with the 76ers. Joe was generous enough to help me with my workouts. Later, when I went pro, Joey was the first person I hired. He is still with me.

Each year, I set out to improve my skills over the prior season. My high school coach, Gregg Downer "I think that is the highest praise a coach can give a player."

Since my arrival in the NBA, I've set about improving each year and I've been able to do that.

Kobe Bryant's career highlights

A member of the 2002 Laker championship team averaging 26.6 ppg and 5.8 apg and in four games in the NBA Finals against the New Jersey Nets

Selected to the 2001-2002 All-NBA First Team after averaging 25.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 5.5 apg

Selected to the 2001-2002 All-Defensive Second Team

Was named MVP of the 2002 All-Star Game after tallying 31 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists

Western Conference starter in his fourth straight All-Star Game

A member of the 2001 Laker championship team averaging 24.6 ppg and 5.8 apg in five games in the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers

Selected to the 2001-2002 All-NBA Second Team

A member of the 2000 Laker championship team averaging 15.6 ppg and 4.6 apg in five games in the NBA Finals against the Indiana Pacers

Selected to the 1999-2000 All-NBA Second Team

Ranked 12th in the NBA in points per game (22.5) and 16th in the NBA in minutes per game (38.2)

Selected to the 1999-2000 NBA All-Defensive First Team and named to the 1999-2000 NBA All-Interview Second Team

Named the NBA Player of the Week for the week ending 4/16/00, averaging 29.7 points, 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds

Hit the game-winning bucket with 2.6 seconds remaining, lifting the Lakers to a 97-96 win over Phoenix on 5/10/00 in game 2 of the series

Posted a career-high 40 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 8 assists against the Sacramento Kings on 3/12/00

Netted 15 points as a starter in the 2000 NBA All-Star Game

Named to the 1998-99 All-NBA Third Team after leading the Lakers in steals (1.44 spg) and ranking 2nd on the team in scoring (19.9 ppg, 15th in the NBA) and free-throw percentage (.839, 20th)

Logged 9 double-doubles and led the Lakers in scoring in 11 games in 1999

Scored 33 of his career-high 38 points (15-24 FG) in the 2nd half, adding 4 assists and 3 rebounds, in a 113-104 victory over the Orlando Magic on 3/21/99

Posted 26 points and career-highs of 13 rebounds and 9 assists against the Denver Nuggets on 2/22/99

Totaled 17 points and 4 rebounds, in his only start of the 1997-98 season, against the Portland Trail Blazers on 2/10/98

Became the youngest All-Star in NBA history, posting a team-high 18 points and 6 rebounds, in the 1998 NBA All-Star Game in New York

Teamed with Lisa Leslie of the WNBA's L.A. Sparks in the inaugural Nestle Crunch All-Star 2ball during All-Star Saturday

Scored a career-high 33 points, hitting 3-of-5 three-pointers, and grabbed 3 rebounds against the Chicago Bulls on 12/17/97

Has appeared in 20 career NBA Playoff games, averaging 8.5 ppg in 17.7 mpg

Named to the 1996-97 NBA All-Rookie Second Team, averaging 7.6 ppg and 15.5 mpg in 71 games

Won the Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk during the 1997 NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland and participated in the Schick Rookie Game, posting a rookie game-record 31 points and 8 rebounds

Made his first career start, scoring 12 points, against the Dallas Mavericks on 1/28/97

Made his NBA debut at the age of 18 years, 2 months and 11 days old, became the youngest player ever to appear in an NBA game, against the Minnesota Timberwolves on 11/3/96

Selected by USA Today and Parade Magazine as the National High School Player of the Year as a senior at Lower Merion H.S.

Kobe Bryant Facts

  • Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were both named First Team All-NBA after the 2001-02 season. They became the first tandem to be honored as such since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in 1996.

  • Kobe Bryant’s 56-point game against the Grizzlies in January of 2002 was the highest total ever recorded by any of the 20+ players who have gone directly from high school to the NBA.

  • Kobe Bryant got his name from a Japanese steakhouse in the Philadelphia suburb of King of Prussia. His father liked the sound of the name.

  • Kobe Bryant’s favorite video as a kid was “NBA Showmen,” which highlighted some of basketball’s all-time greats.

  • Kobe Bryant has incredible basketball bloodlines. His mom’s brother, John “Chubby” Cox, played in the NBA.

  • When Kobe Bryant made the varsity at Lower Merion High School as a freshman, he selected the number of his idol, Magic Johnson. He had to switch to #33 in 1995-96, because he outgrew the other jersey.

  • Kobe Bryant made his first legit dunk at the age of 14.

  • Kobe Bryant took R&B star Brandy to his senior prom. He later played the role of a basketball star on her show, “Moesha.”

  • Kobe Bryant married Vanessa Laine in April of 2001. They met while she was still in high school. An aspiring artist, she is expecting their first child, a girl, in February of 2003.

  • Kobe Bryant breaks in a new pair of basketball shoes every three or four games.

  • Kobe Bryant develops new moves in the off-season by playing against his shadow.

  • Kobe Bryant was one of four Lakers to make the 1998 All-Star squad—Shaquille O’Neal, Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel were the others. The last time four teammates made the game was in 1983, when Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney of the 76ers were selected.

  • Kobe Bryant's nine-game scoring streak of at least 40 points per game in 2003 matched one of equal length by Michael Jordan in the 1986-87 campaign.