MAMBA MEMORIES: A TRIBUTE TO A BASKETBALL LEGEND

30 January 2020

Following the shock news early this week, this special tribute looks back at the life of the former legendary LA Lakers star, Kobe Bryant.

 MAMBA MEMORIES: A TRIBUTE TO A BASKETBALL LEGEND

"I loved Kobe - he was like a little brother to me."

These were the immediate words of one legend in memory of another.

"We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much" continued Michael Jordan, going on to add "He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game."

That final assertion, from the six-time NBA Champion of the five-time NBA Champion, that Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest the game of Basketball has and will ever see, is in no doubt.

In a 20 season career spent solely with his boyhood club, the Los Angeles Lakers, the accolades that would follow in a glittering career were endless.

Of those five championships, three were consecutive (2000-2002), and in his final two Kobe was named the Finals MVP (Most Valuable Player).

An 18-times NBA All-Star and two-times gold winning Olympian, Bryant was also awarded the regular season MVP title for 2008 and until very recently was ranked third on the list of top all-time NBA point scorers with 33,643.

It was only last week, prior to this weekends tragic events, that he was surpassed for third place, by LeBron James, who was quick to pay to tribute to the man he had just overtaken in his post match interviews.

"I'm happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bryant," said James, himself now wearing the iconic Purple and Gold.

"One of the all-time greatest basketball players to ever play, one of the all-time greatest Lakers.

Kobe's public response to James , through twitter - which would also be his last - was typically classy.



The game he was always meant to play


Born on the 23 August 1978, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kobe was the youngest of three children and only son of Joseph Bryant and Pamela Cox Bryant.

Named after Japan's famous beef dish, Kobe 'Bean' Bryant - his middle name derived from his fathers nickname - there is perhaps little surprise that he would go on to follow in his father's footsteps and play in the NBA.

His dad, Joseph 'Jellybean' Bryant had a 17 year career playing in the sport and had continued coaching into his sixties.


During that playing career, Joe would play for the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers and Houston Rockets, but it was his move to play in the Italian leagues during the later half of his playing career that would have a clear impact on his young family as they grew up.



Aged six at the time, Kobe would spend eight-years growing up in Italy, and would go onto regard Reggio Emilia - a central Northern City about 100 miles South of Milan - as "posto speciale" (a special place).

During his time in Italy, he would also become fluent in the language as this video showing his interview with Reggio's leading basketball publication, BaskeTime proves.

And it was during his time in Italy where Bryant began honing his basketball skills through the study of NBA tapes his grandfather used to send.

Recalling one particular time spent with his father going over the tapes, within this fascinating ESPN interview, Kobe said;

"My father told me, 'Watch this. See this guy? (referring to John Battle, the former Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers guard) This is how you can make use of your left hand.'"

Describing himself as "a scrawny kid" and the need to improve, he would go on to say; "I knew for me to get any type of edge whatsoever I had to be more prepared than the person I was matching up against."



The High School Years


Bryant would return to the States and Philadelphia aged 14 to attend Lower Merion High School in Ardmore.

Becoming the first freshman to start for Lower Merion's varsity team for decades.
Discussing that moment, his then coach Gregg Downer would tell ESPN that Bryant's prodigious talent was already clear.


"I had invited him to scrimmage against our varsity and after five minutes of play I turned to my assistant coaches and said, 'This guy's a pro.'"


That first season, the side would finish with a losing record of 4-20, but the following seasons would see Bryant's team became a force to be reckoned with.


A 77-13 record over the proceeding three years helped cement Bryant's growing reputation, culminating in him leading the Aces to their first state championship in over 50 years during his senior year.


Averaging 30.8 points, 12 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4 steals and 3.8 blocked shots across a 31-3 record across that championship winning season, Bryant would then be faced with a difficult decision; go to collage of head straight for the pro's.



Statement from Lower Merion Basketball on the passing of Kobe Bryant 96

Our hearts are broken. We are struggling to process. We are numb with shock, sadness, and disbelief.

Kobe was our teammate, our brother, our friend, our advocate, our inspiration, our heartbeat. And Gigi was the keeper of his iridescent, irrepressible flame.

Our love and prayers are with Vanessa and the entire family, for now and always.

Kobe brought the world to Lower Merion. He meant the world to Aces Nation. It is impossible to express his impact on our basketball family and our community. His love, generosity and support never wavered. He was us and we were him.

We will need time to mourn, breathe, and reflect before we can even try to appropriately honor such an extraordinary life taken from us so unimaginably soon. But perhaps Kobe’s greatest legacy is how he brought us all together. The skinny 14-year old kid who first took the Main Gym floor in 1991, then took us on an epic ride we will never forget did the same for millions more. We all felt like we were in it together. A common bond, an understanding - a Mamba mentality. That will never change.

The world has lost a virtuoso and a champion of champions.

We have lost our Ace.

Rest In Peace, 33. Rest In Peace, Mambacita.

We love you.


NBA beginnings


Trusting in his ability, Bryant was to make the move to go directly in the pro's, following Kevin Garnett who had gone in the first round of the 1995 NBA draft a year before him (#5 pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves) and in doing so joining what was then a small select group of individuals that had made the giant leap.

Picked in the first round as the #13 pick by the Charlotte Hornets, this was a draft of convenience and Bryant was never destined to end up playing in North Carolina.

That was because the Hornets were interested in trading the Lakers then starting centre Vlade Divac, in return for their draft selection.

Signing a three-year $3.5 million rookie contract, Bryant would become the then youngest NBA starter ever at 18 years and 158 days, albeit from the bench.

Although game time during his initial season was limited - averaging just 15.5 minutes per game - signs of what was to come during a illustrious career were already on show.

The youngest ever Slam Dunk Contest winner at the age of 18 during All-Star weekend, Bryant was thrust into the spotlight during game 5 of the Lakers Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz.

Undertaken a lead role in the absence of the teams established stars, Bryant would come up blank at crucial times on this occasion, with the Lakers eventually going down 98-93 in overtime to be eliminated four games to one.

But he was to gain the respect of his more experienced team mates, with iconic centre Shaquille O'Neill commenting that he "was the only guy who had the guts at the time to take shots like that."

In his second season, as his minutes grew so did his scoring average; from 7.4 to 15.4, the highest of any non-starter that season, with his popularity amongst fans helping him earn a spot on the All-Star team - setting another record as the youngest starter in history.

The third season, Bryant would grow further still, starting each game of the 50-game season - one that had been shortened due to a pre-season contract lockout.

During that season, a contract extension worth $70 million over six-years was signed, whilst comparisons to the greats of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson were being made; but playoff success up to this point remained elusive.


Triple Champions


But that elusive hunt for team glory was soon to end, as the Lakers through incoming coach Phil Jackson and the formidable centre guard combination of Bryant and O'Neal, became a irresistible force within the NBA.

Leading the team in assists and steals (per game) that season, the Lakers won 67 games on their way to a first championship since 1988, at the expense of the Indiana Pacers.


The following season saw a repeat of the Lakers and Bryant's championship winning performances, as they recorded a 15-1 record during the playoffs.


Losing their only game during that Championship run in the opener, against his father's former side the Philadelphia 76ers, The Lakers would go on to win the next four games securing a second title in as many years.


Bryant's contribution during that playoff run was crucial; averaging 29.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game; which saw the star yet again voted to start in the NBA All-Star game for the third year in a row.


Into the third season of The Lakers NBA domination, Bryant would play 80 games for the first time in his career, during which he record a 56 point game in the 120-81 win against the Memphis Grizzlies.


Leading his team in assists once again, his shooting average increase to 46.9% as he averaged 25.2 points across the season.


Audibly booed by fans throughout a game against Philadelphia, Bryant would score 31-points, winning him his first All-Star MVP trophy in the process.

On route to the third consecutive finals appearance, The Lakers would overcome an intense battle against the Sacramento Kings across a seven game series, against home-court advantage, where they would go on to face the New Jersey Nets in the finals.


Sweeping The Nets aside in four, Bryant would average 26.8 points and 5.3 assists per game; and at the age of 23, become the youngest ever player to win three championships.




Sexual Assault Charge


The proceeding years from that period of success proved to be one of mixed fortunes and controversy for Bryant and The Lakers.

Whilst personal records continued to be achieved, including an NBA record for three-pointers (12) set against the Seattle SuperSonics and a run of nine games where he posted 40+ points, The Lakers were to taste defeat in the 2002/03 playoff semi-finals against the San Antonio Spurs.


Then prior to the following season, Bryant was arrested for sexual assault.


Responding to the allegations, Bryant through his legal team would admit adultery but deny the assault.


And whilst the criminal case against Bryant never went to trail* - with prosecutors citing the accusers unwillingness to testify as a primary factor - the affair continued to cast shadow on the man throughout his career in the eyes of detractors.


Facing hostile receptions on and off court during this time and feeling at a low point in his career, it was at this point that Bryant would create his 'Black Mamba' alter-ego as a form of coping mechanism. 

Discussing this aspect in his auto-documentary 'Muse' Bryant revealed.

"I went from a person who was at the top of his game, had everything coming, to a year later, having absolutely no idea where life is going or if you are even going to be a part of life as we all know it.

"I had to separate myself. It felt like there were so many things coming at once. It was just becoming very, very confusing. I had to organize things. So I created The Black Mamba."



* A separate civil suit was settled out of court, with Bryant saying of the incident;

"Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize [sic] now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter."



Machiavellian Brilliance


That season was also to end on a further difficult note for Bryant, as in a massive upset, The Lakers lost out to the Detroit Pistons in the Finals, providing The Pistons with their first championship for 14 years.

And further controversy was to continue to rain on Bryant's character the following season, with former coach Jackson describing Bryant as "un-coachable" in his book The Last Season: A Team in Search For Its Soul as the fallout from the previous season continued.

Bryant ending that season as the second-leading scorer with a 27.6 ppga, but with the team missing the playoffs as they recorded a losing record of 34-48 a change of coach was required for the 2005/6 season.


Queue the return of the aforementioned Jackson, who despite his criticisms of Bryant, was welcomed back with the stars blessing.

And the move seemed to work for Bryant personally, as he set personal record after personal record.


There were the 62 points scored through three quarters, betting that of the entire Dallas Mavericks side.


Then there was the 81 points obtained against the Toronto Raptors - a franchise and career high, and the second-highest point total in NBA history (Wilt Chamberlin's 100 point game against the New York Nicks in 1962 remains #1).


In that season, Bryant set the Lakers franchise records for most 40-point games (27), points scored (2,832) and won the leagues scoring record by averaging 35.4 ppg.


However, despite these regular season feats, the post season was to end prematurely for Bryant and The Lakers with defeat to to the Phoenix Suns in seven.


But a darker side to the talented man's game was beginning to emerge across the 2006/7 as suspensions followed for on-court incidents.


A one game ban was handed down following an "unnatural" arm movement that saw Bryant's elbow catch San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili square in the face.


The same punishment was given to Bryant for a similar incident, this time on Marko Jaric of the Minnesota Timberwolves.


On his immediate return, a further incident this time involving Philadelphia's Kyle Korver was later reviewed and classified a 'flagrant foul' albeit this time Bryant escaped a ban.


But mixed in with these misdemeanours was also brilliance, as Bryant scored a season-high 65 points against the Portland Trail Blazers, followed by 50, 60 and 50 point games.


Now wearing the number 24 jersey, the number he wore in high school, Bryant went on to record ten 50-plus point games in the season, topping the leagues scoring charts.




Gold and Glory


Despite those records, The Lakers disappointingly didn't make it past the first round of the playoffs in the 2006/7 season.

And ultimate success would remain elusive in the following season as The Lakers succumbed to the Boston Celtics in the Finals following a 57-25 regular season.


Bryant, who surpassed 20,000 career points in that season - then the youngest to do so at 29 years, 122 days (a record now held by that man, Bryon James) - would play a large part of the season carrying an injury to his shooting hand, opting to delay surgery to after the Beijing Olympics.


That summer would see Bryant win the first of two gold medals for his country as a star studded USA side resisted the spirited challenge of Spain in the final, with his second coming four years later at London 2012.


Inspired and fully repaired going into the 2008/9 season, a rampant Lakers would win their first seven games, reaching 21-3 by mid December.


A trip to The Finals was once again on the cards for The Lakers, against the Orlando Magic, where this time they and Bryant wouldn't be denied.


Winning in five, Bryant was award his first NBA Final MVP trophy to go alongside his fourth championship; recording averages of 32.4 points, 7.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds on route, numbers that put him in the same conversation as the great Michael Jordan.


Strengthening this link between legends, writing in 2012 for the Bleacher Report, outlining 5 Reasons Kobe Bryant Is the Only Michael Jordan Comparison, Joshua Sexton reasoned;


"Since Kobe Bryant entered the NBA in the fall of 1996, his comparisons to Michael Jordan have been plentiful.


"The fact we are still making the comparison in 2012, with Kobe nearing the end of his career, and Jordan having been retired for nine seasons, is proof enough Kobe is the only player worthy of all the Michael Jordan comparisons.


"Look at the other players (Harold Miner, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Darius Miles) who have been compared to Jordan throughout the years. In hindsight, it almost seems comical, because the players’ careers didn’t turn out as successful as originally thought."




Mr Clutch


A dominant facet of Bryant's play and a reason why he was so popular amongst fans - and would draw criticism from others - was the mentality of his play in pressure, on-the-line, clutch situations.


This aspect was particular evident during the 2009/10 season, in which Bryant would make six game-winning shots, despite an injury plagued season.


The Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzilies and Toronto Raptors were all to have their hearts ripped out at the death, owing to Bryant's in-the-moment brilliance during that season.


But it is perhaps his three-pointer against the Miami Heat back in December 2009 that is the clutch shot that will live the longest in Lakers fans memories.


Down by two with only three seconds remaining, Bryant looked to make space for a final shot, against Dwayne Wade and the packed Heat defence looked to protect their slender lead.


With the clock closing on zero, Bryant, off-balance, would make one final surging leap forward from beyond the-D, to release the ball right-handed on a perfect arching looping trajectory that was only ever going to find net.


Queue wild celebrations from the Lakers players and home fans, as Bryant wheeled away arms aloft, all within the vicinity of Miami's distraught players, feeling the all to evident effects of being another victim to have been burned by the brilliance of Bryant.


Speaking of the game-winning shot post game, Bryant said to ESPN;


“I released the ball, I was kind of like, ‘No effing way. No way this ball’s going in.’”

“It felt good, I just didn’t think I was going to make that shot. I’d like my chances if I had squared up and got the shot I’d wanted to.”

The fact that this shot, in what was a regular mid-season game was celebrated as such at the time and remains so even now just goes to show how special a moment this was.

Ok, no championships were at stake here, the result was just to add another notch to the win column.

But the play and scenario was one that would mirror those imaginary situations dreamt up by kids on their own courts. It was a moment to amaze and capture the imagination of Basketball fans across the World and remains a moment worth cherishing from a man's career that contained many a cherished moment.


Gimme Five


On the back of Bryant's game-winning exploits, The Lakers would enter into the playoffs for that season as the number 1 seed in the Western Conference as they looked to secure back-to-back championships.


Opening against Oklahoma City Thunder, Bryant's Lakers would eventually win through across six-games, before sweeping aside the Utah Jazz in the second round, setting up a conference final against the Phoenix Suns.


"Showing the world what postseason greatest can be" Bryant would lead his team to victory once again, with a 37-point performance in the clinching game , 9 of those inside the final two minutes including "an impossible 23-footer."


Back in the NBA Finals once again, Bryant and The Lakers were to face a familiar foe in the Boston Celtics.


"We'll see how much we matured," Bryant said of the prospect of refacing the team that had triumphed against him and his team in 2008.


"They challenged us extremely well in the finals a couple years ago. Now is a chance to see how much we've grown."


In a dramatic series that sung forever one way and then another, Bryant would top score with 30 points in the opening contest to help put The Lakers 1-up, only for The Celtics to hit back in the next.


Bryant would go on to score 29 and and 33 points in the next two games, a win and defeat, leaving the series poised at 2 games a piece.


38 points and 4 assists from Bryant was not enough to prevent The Lakers going down 86-92 in Boston, granting The Celtics a 3-2 lead going into a crucial game six at Staples Centre.




Opening up a big lead during game six, The Lakers never looked likely to give up the fight in their own backyard, with Bryant contributing 26 points on the night, and in doing so set up the tantalising prospect of a game seven for The Championship in Los Angeles just two days later.

In response, the Celtics started the win-all-game in dominant fashion, opening up a 23-14 lead through the first quarter.

By the end of the second, The Celtics lead had reduced to six, but a scoring run entering the third saw the lead re-established to 13 points at one point.


Staring defeat in the face, The Lakers and Bryant rallied once again to close the quarter just four behind a 57-53.


Into the fourth and momentum continued to swing The Lakers way, as Bryant's 17-foot shot produced daylight at 64-68.


A dogged Boston continued to battle hard, bringing the scores back to 73-76 with under 90 seconds to play and then closer still at 79-81 as the clock was threatening to go into signal digits.


Needing to draw a quick foul and hope The Lakers missed from the line, Sasha Vujačić would not and Bryant would duly secure his fifth Championship and be crowned the Finals MVP for the second consecutive year.


During post game interviews, Bryant would call his fifth and what would be his final Championship his "sweetest" owing to the rivalry between the two sides, whilst admitting that his on the night performance wasn't the greatest.


"Tonight got the best of me. I wanted it so bad, sometimes you want something so bad it slips away from you.


"You know, my guys picked me up."




Dear Basketball


As Bryant began moving into the twilight years of his career, further championship success would allude him; robing him of tying the haul of six championships of Michael Jordan.


But whilst injuries would also become a larger factor across these final years, Bryant was still able to rack up impressive performances and numbers to match.


There was the January 2012 run of four consecutive 40+ games; marking the sixth time in his career he had achieved such a feat. Later that year, Bryant would go on a seven game stretch of contributing 30 points or more. And during that run, Bryant would also become the youngest player in league history, at 34 years and 104 days, to reach 30,000 career points as he joined an illustrious group of players to reach that milestone including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


When fit, an ever dependent Lakers would call on Bryant to put in some mammoth shifts, as he regularly exceeded the 40 minutes mark in an attempt to maintain the teams playoff push during the 2012/13 season.


The strain, however, ultimately proved too much on the great mans body as he suffered a torn Achilles tendon injury - during a run of seven consecutive 40+ minute games - thus effectively ending The Lakers post-season hopes, given they would be without their talisman.


Further injury frustrating years would follow, to the point that as Bryant embarked on his 20th season, he would announce that the 2015/16 season would be his last through a poem titled 'Dear Basketball' released via The Players Tribune;


Dear Basketball,

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.

As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,
Kobe


Mamba Out


And so the time had come for Bryant to bid his final farewell to not only Lakers fans, but all in Basketball that had grown to respect the mans career and impact on the game of Basketball.

It is unlikely that Bryant would have wished to go out as a member of The Lakers team that would record their worst season record in franchise history of 17-65.

But there couldn't have been a better script for his final and 1346th regular-season appearance for The Lakers, at the age of 37 years and 234 days, against the Utah Jazz in front of a packed house of adoring fans.


And his 60 point contribution in 101-96 victory on the night only partially tells the story.


Deep into the closing of the fourth quarter, the gas tank of a 37-year old Bryant was running close to empty, with the strain of two decades playing at the highest level and the sheer emotion of the occasion surely weighing his sneakers ever heavier to the polished surface of the Staples Centre arena court.


But never before had the mans desire, will and the gut felt determination of a champion shone through more than it did that night.


In the last quarter of an hour of his career, he outscored the entire Jazz team 23-21. As teammates gravitated to give him the perfect send off, Bryant scored 15 of The Laker's final 17 points on the night.


And within those 15 was the game winning shot - a typically clutch effort - with just 31.6 seconds left.

Trailing by one, the final show of Black Mamba magic was to dribble past a beaten defender, before pulling up short, to the right and just inside the-D, to release a jumper from down-town for two, before the challenge of another could get to him.

That would put him on 58 points on the night and a subsequent foul would give Bryant two free-throws and a chance to hit 60 for the fifth time in his career.

A breathless Bryant composed himself for two final shots as teammates, opponents and an expectant crowd looked on, willing the ball in.

They needn't have worried, Bryant sunk both inside the hoop with little fuss to secure the win and in doing so created a final bit of NBA history as the oldest player to hit that scoring landmark in a game.

And so Bryant signed off his basketball career in a manor fitting of a great, before leaving centre-court with a simple message for all;

"Thank you guys for all the years of support, thank you guys for all the motivation, thank you for all the inspiration.

"You guys will always be in my heart.

"Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

"I love you guys, I love you guys.

"Mamba out."


The news that nobody wanted to hear


Closing out with career averages of 25 points (25.6), 4.7 assists (4.7), 5.2 rebounds (5.1), 5 and 1.4 steals (1.4) across 1,346 (220) games (playoff record in brackets), the five-times champions inclusion to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was assured.

In December of last year, it was announced that Bryant would be one of the nominees alongside Duncan, Garnett, Tim Hardaway and Mugsy Bogues with the 2020 set to have been officially announced this April.


But then, on the morning of Sunday the 26th January, came the news that nobody wanted to hear.


After initial reports of a helicopter crash on the hillside close to Las Virgenes Rd in the City of Calabasas, California, the further realisation that Kobe Bryant was one of the passengers began to reverberate around the world.


On board with his second daughter Gianna (13) and seven others, the group were on their way to a youth sports academy where Bryant would coach the team that his daughter played on - 'The Mambas' - who were scheduled to compete later in the day.
Sadly, no-one survived the crash.


As reality began to sink in, the basketball community, sports fans and the world became united in grief as outpourings of heart felt emotion and praise for the legacy a great of the game had left began filled social media.


But those who also lost their lives in these tragic circumstances and the friends and families that are feeling that loss must not be forgotten and therefore we also wish to pay tribute to;




John (56), Keri (41) and Alyssa Altobelli (14) - John was head coach of the junior college baseball team, Orange Coast College Pirates. His daughter also played for Bryant's team, with John and his wife travelling alongside their daughter for the tournament.

Sarah (45) and Payton Chester (13) - Payton was another member of Bryant's team who was travelling with her mother. Tragically, their sudden passing leaves two 16-year-old boys without their mother and sister.


Christina Mauser (38) - A specialist defensive coach for Bryant's team, Mauser had worked as a physical education teacher and basketball coach at Harbor Day School, where Gianna attended as a student before Bryant offered her a job as an assistant coach for The Mambas. Ms Mauser was married, with three children, two daughters aged 3 and 11 and a son aged 9.


Ara Zobayan (50) - Pilot Ara Zobayan, of Huntington Beach, had amassed over 20-years of flight experience with flying said to be "his life's passion." Mr Zobayan had been the longtime girlfriend of Tessie Davison who had two children of her own.


Bryant and Gianna are survived by his wife of 18 years, Vanessa Lane and three daughters; Natalia (17), Bianka (4) and Capri Kobe who was born in June of last year.

Kobe Bryant: 23 August 1978 - 26 January 2020 (41)

We send love and our heartfelt condolences to the Bryant, Altobelli, Chester, Mauser and Zobayan families. 

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