Updated: Mar 6, 2020
Kobe Bryant (1978-2020) will always been known in the basketball world as one of the greatest. Bryant made the leap directly from high school to the National Basketball Association (N.B.A.) where he had an amazing 20-year career. He was among the nine people killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday just north of Los Angeles. The group was headed to an afternoon game in which he was the coach of his daughters travel team from the Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy. The news of his death shook the entire basketball world as players that grew up watching Bryant win five championships with the Lakers and scoring a career best 81 points in a single game. Bryant was drafted as the 13th overall pick of the 1996 N.B.A. draft by the Charlotte Hornets on behalf of the Lakers. This was done with an agreement between the two teams in a trade that sent veteran center Vlade Divac to the Hornets.
Throughout his storied career he earned 18 All-Star selections, a regular season Most Valuable Player (M.V.P.) Award in 2008 and two N.B.A. finals M.V.P. awards to with his five championship rings and two Olympic gold medals. In 2003 Bryant was facing a sexual assault allegation that would change how many people saw him. During this time he still remained hugely popular on the basketball scene around the world. Bryant helped restore the Lakers to glory. This was with no shortage of turmoil along the way though. He did so first alongside the Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal for three consecutive drama-filled N.B.A. championships in the 1999-2000. 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons. Then as the team’s unquestioned fulcrum for two more titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Bryant’s last career game in April 2016 saw him put up an impressive 60 points against the Utah Jazz. He had a built an unmatched legacy that persuaded the Lakers to retire both jersey numbers he wore over two 10-season stretches: No. 8 and No. 24.