Basketball legend Kobe Bryant would have celebrated his 42nd birthday today, August 23.
The Los Angeles Laker died in a helicopter crash, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, in Calabasas, California on January 26.
Bryant’s long-time sponsor Nike will also launching Mamba Week today and promises to include Bryant-themed jerseys and shoes. The company has also pledged to donate US$1 million to the foundation.
To celebrate his life and legacy, here are 10 facts on the legendary ‘Black Mamba’:
- Kobe Bryant was drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA) at 17-years-old, the overall 13th pick in 1996.
- Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets but was immediately traded to the LA Lakers.
- He won the NBA Slam Dunk contest as a rookie player in 1997.
- Kobe made his debut in the NBA All-Star Game in 1998.
- Bryant won his first of five NBA titles when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers to win the NBA Finals in 2000.
- He was named NBA All-Star Game MVP in 2002 after winning his third consecutive NBA Finals Championships.
- The ‘Black Mamba’ alter ego that Kobe was known for was revealed in 2003.
- Kobe led the United States to gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, and again at the 2012 London Olympics.
- Bryant retired from professional basketball in his final appearance with the Lakers on April 13, 2016 as they defeated the Utah Jazz 101-96.
- Kobe won an Academy Award for Dear Basketball, which he wrote and produced, in 2018.