On the 26th of January, 2020, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Seven other passengers died, including the pilot. This shook the world, as Kobe Bryant was such a constant feature in the media, and was one of the biggest names in the history of the NBA.
Everyone knew that this amazing player was a dream to watch on the basketball court, with his mad skills and dedication to the game. What people don’t know are facts that weren’t always highlighted by the press. Facts such as the impact that Giorgio Armani had on Kobe Bryant’s life, and the reason he was actually called Kobe. Here are facts that will amaze and surprise you about the phenomenon that was Kobe Bryant!
The Origin Of His Name
Kobe had an unusual name, but it had an interesting origin. Kobe is actually the name of a city in Japan. His mother and father loved Kobe beef so much, that upon looking at a menu from a restaurant, they decided that was to be their boy’s name. Kobe’s middle name was Bean, and that came from his father’s nickname “Jellybean.”
Kobe Bryant actually meant a lot to Japanese culture. Many Japanese players in the NBA today feel that Kobe Bryant was their favorite player in the world, as they grew up watching him. Yuta Watanabe who plays in the NBA for the Memphis Grizzlies tweeted “Say it ain’t so…Kobe.” Kobe Bryant was his favorite player. In an Instagram post he later posted “You are the reason why I started dreaming to be a NBA player. Rest In Peace.” Kobe meant a lot to the people of Japan and it is fitting that his name came from there.
Kobe Learnt To Tap Dance
In an interview with popular talk show host Jimmy Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kobe Bryant admitted that he learnt to tap dance to strengthen his ankles and protect them from getting hurt. He also admitted that he kept this very secret from the public. After all, the public can be very judgemental when it comes to these kinds of things and could come up with the wrong message.
In his interview with Jimmy Kimel, he also mentioned that when he joined the dance studio for the first time, his dancing companions were little six and seven year old children. Learning to dance is not a new concept for sports stars such as football legends Lynn Swann and Herschel Walker, who took ballet classes to help them out on the field.
Kobe Bryant’s Link To Italy
Not many people know that Kobe Bryant actually grew up in Italy. He moved there when his dad Joe played for many of the local basketball teams in the ‘80s. Kobe could speak Italian fluently and while in Italy, played most days on the city’s youth team Cantine Riunite. He fondly remembered this time in his life as contributing to his formative skills on the basketball court.
The team was named after a local winemaker of the place’s sparkling red lambrusco. One of Kobe’s friends and former teammate’s told CNN, “He was obviously already really good. We had a strong team, but he was better than all of us. At 11 years old, he was already very secure in his power and what he would become.” According to Kobe, Italy was very important to him, and he had mentioned that his story truly began there. Italy mourned the death of the star for a full week.
Kobe Admitted He Didn’t Really Have Any Friends
Kobe Bryant was close to certain people in his life that followed the same career as him, like Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James, but he admitted in a GQ Magazine interview back in 2015, that he honestly just didn’t have time for friends and definitely was not Kobe’s father, a good friend. He stated he was not the kind of person that remembered friends’ birthdays.
Kobe admitted in the interview that his work was his life and that’s what he was focused on and obsessed about. He knew he could relate to people like actors, musicians and businessmen who also worked as hard as he did and were similar to him. In his own words, “Do we have time to socialize and to hangout aimlessly? No…I enjoy working.”
Kobe Bryant Won An Academy Award
Kobe Bryant actually took home an Oscar. He won the Academy Award in 2018 for the animated short story category for “Dear Basketball.” The entire short animated feature is based on Bryant’s letter that he wrote in the Players’ Tribune in 2015. In this letter he announced that he would leave basketball due to the fact that his body could no longer take the “grind of the season.”
After he won the Academy Award, he had credited both Shonda Rhimes and Oprah Winfrey as they had helped with advice towards starting a studio. He also credited his beautiful girl Gianna, saying that she gave him the motivation to carry on as a filmmaker. She had told him, “Well, Dad, you always tell us to go after your dreams, so man up.”
The Youngest Player in The NBA
Back in 1996, Kobe was the youngest player in the history of the NBA at that period. He had just recently turned 18. In fact, he was 18 years, 2 months and 11 days. Since then, younger players have joined the NBA, such as Andrew Bynam, who was 18 years old and 6 days when he played his first game, and Jermaine O’Neale, who was 18 years old and 53 days when he entered the NBA.
Kobe Bryant was drafted as the first guard straight out of high school. The NBA had their eyes on him for a long time and knew they wanted him, as soon as his age qualified him to enter the game. When the Lakers picked Kobe, he was only 17 at the time, and he didn’t have full consent to sign his own contract. His parents had to help out and cosign his Laker’s contract, making everything legal before the beginning of the season.
Keeping It In The Family
Kobe Bryant ate, slept and breathed basketball. He was surrounded by basketball players his entire life. Not only was his dad, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant a basketball player in the NBA, but his uncle (his mother’s brother), John “Chubby” Cox also played in the NBA. Joe played for the Philadelphia 76ers, as well as the San Diego Clippers. John Cox played for the Washington Bullets.
Kobe Bryant’s daughter, Gianna, played American middle school basketball. She had great dreams of joining the WNBA one day. Kobe was very proud of his daughter for this and encouraged her all the way towards her dreams. One of the WNBA stars said that Gianna was “the future of the WNBA.” Kobe’s father, Joe, also coached in the WNBA.
Kobe Bryant Changed The World Of Sneakers
Although Michael Jordan had a huge impact in the world of basketball shoes (everybody who was anybody had to have a pair of Jordan’s back in the ‘90s), Kobe Bryant changed professional sports sneakers for good. Kobe created minimalist, low-silhouette footwear that wasn’t as flashy as previous sneakers, or boasted a high top.
Many NBA stars followed suit and started to wear the lighter, quicker style of sneakers which freed their moves on the hardwood of the NBA courts. This occurred relatively quickly after Kobe Bryant left Adidas and signed a four year deal with Nike worth millions. He motivated Nike to create shoes for basketball that were both sleek and safe to use on the basketball court and they listened to him, all the way.
Kobe Bryant Was A Rap Artist
Although Kobe Bryant spent much of his formative years in Italy, he was born and grew up in Philadelphia, where there was a rampant hip hop and rap scene. Kobe loved it and was part of the rap group CHEIZAW. This all happened while he was a high school student at Merian High School, where he and some friends got together to form the rap group.
CHEIZAW was actually really good because three years after Kobe Bryant was drafted, his rap group was signed to Sony Entertainment, which was quite a big feat. The label wanted Kobe to have a solo rap career after the career success of rap artists like LL Cool J and Will Smith. Kobe spent much time with rappers Nas and Foxy Brown to get tips and advice about the business. He was really serious about it. His debut album Visions was set for release in 2000, but there were creative differences between him and Sony Entertainment, and they dropped him from the label.
Brandy Was Kobe’s Prom Date
Brandy Norwood went by the stage name Brandy, and was a really popular singer back in the ‘90s and early 2000s. She had hits like “The Boy Is Mine” with Monica, “I Wanna Be Down” and “What About Us.” She was also an actress and noted for her beauty. She was also Kobe’s high school crush. Kobe Bryant was in high school when he met Brandy at the Essence Awards and he asked her to his school prom.
The meeting went well as Kobe told his mom after the awards, “I met such a nice, beautiful, intelligent, sweet person.” Kobe’s prom night was quite a spectacle because of the paparazzi and security guards involved. Brandy had never actually gone to her own school prom, so the night was really special for her too. She had worn a beautiful Moschino gown. She still thinks fondly on that night as she had said she had an “amazing” time.
Why He Nicknamed Himself “ Black Mamba”
Black mambas are deadly poisonous snakes found in Africa. They reach lengths of up to 14 feet, and are one of the fastest snakes in the world. Kobe Bryant gave himself this nickname after watching Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece “Kill Bill” (with Uma Thurman), where the words “Black Mamba” was used as code for a mission that was deadly.
He adopted this nickname after his off-court problems in 2003 and 2004. Kobe really adapted the attitude of a black mamba as an alter-ego to pull him through his toughest times back then. He needed to separate what was going on in his life and created the persona “Black Mamba” to do this. On the court he had to be deadly, and beat all his opponents. He had to be fast, agile and accurate, just like a black mamba.
Kobe Had An Incredible Work Ethic
Kobe was one of the best players the game had ever seen, because he put in so much hard work behind the scenes. He was known in the industry for his incredible work ethic, and couldn’t understand nor approve of lazy people. Examples of his work ethic included playing left-handed because of a right shoulder injury, losing 16 pounds for the Olympics in 2012 to keep his knees pain-free, and being very strict about what he ate.
Besides all these things, Kobe also cold-called people (like Oprah Winfrey), involved in business, as well as entrepreneurs, so he could understand and learn all their insider secrets to achievement. He once even worked out for 7 hours straight, not leaving until he had achieved 800 shots.
He Taught Himself To Play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
When Kobe was going through tough times with his wife, he felt he would win her love back by doing something really special for her. She could receive any gift, as he really could afford anything for her in the world, but he wanted to go out of his comfort zone to prove his love. He did this by playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for her, which he learnt by ear.
Even years after, Kobe still played the song as it really relaxed him. He posted a picture of himself on Twitter, after losing to the Chicago Bulls back in 2013, and tweeted “Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata calms me down when I reach my breaking point #relaxandfocus.” There’s simply nothing that Kobe couldn’t do!
Kobe Made History When He Retired His Numbers
In Kobe Bryant’s basketball career he wore two jersey numbers for the LA Lakers. The first jersey he wore was number 8. This number was from all the numbers added up from Adidas ABCD Camp, 143 (a basketball camp he attended), and he wore the same number while playing basketball in Italy.
He then switched his jersey number to 24 during the 2006 to 2007 season, as this was the number he wore in Lower Merion high school. His change of number was explained by the fact that he first chose the number 8 to show he was new and had to prove his worth. The number 24 was more of a way of showing that he had grown up and became older and wiser – he had more life experience. Kobe made NBA history as the first player to retire two different numbers from the same NBA team.
Kobe Bryant’s Wife Left High School Because Of Him
It was love at first sight when Kobe Bryant spotted his future wife to be. Bryant was a well-known star when he first saw Vanessa, who was an extra in a hip hop video that was led by Snoop Dogg. He had started romancing her and sending her flowers to her high school. She was only 17 years old at the time.
TV crews arrived at Vanessa’s high school, Marina High School, and when Kobe announced he was engaged, things got so crazy that Vanessa had to finish her studies privately. It was well worth it though, as they ended up with a very long marriage that included four children. Their first date was really sweet, as it took place in Disneyland.
Kobe’s Favorite Dish Was Out Of The Ordinary
It is obvious that Kobe ate really well and avoided junk food. In order to play basketball at your best, you have to watch what you put inside you. His favorite dish comes as quite a surprise though. He admitted that it was his favorite dish on ESPN. The dish in question is frog legs dipped in honey garlic sauce.
Nobody can tell why this was his favorite dish, but perhaps he tasted it in Italy and fell in love with it during his formative years. After all, it is a dish enjoyed in places like Greece and Italy, as well as southern parts of the U.S.A. From speaking fluent Italian, to eating speciality dishes such as this, it is clear to see that Kobe was very well-traveled and cultured.
Kobe Only Had Daughters
As we all know, the passing of Kobe Bryant included his lovely daughter Gianna. Fortunately, the family is survived by Kobe’s wife Vanessa and three other beautiful children. All the children are girls and their names are Natalia Diamante Bryant, aged 17, Bianka Bella Bryant, aged 3, and Capri Kobe Bryant, aged 7 months. Gianna Maria Onore Bryant was only 13 years old.
Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa, loved all her girls but had told Kobe many times that she wished she had a boy. He had expressed this on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show. If anyone was going to carry on the family tradition of basketball, it was little Gianna, but unfortunately both she and her dad passed away that tragic day.
Armani’s Advice Shaped Kobe’s Outlook On Life
Kobe spent his formative years in Italy and had respect for everything that was Italian – including the fashion masters that came out of Italy. When Kobe was just 21 years old, Giorgio Armani spoke to him and told him how he only started his company at the age of 40. This totally shook Kobe and woke him up, making him question what he was going to do for the rest of his life.
Armani himself was always a hard working man who was in the Italian army and worked at a department store and as a designer on a freelance basis, before founding his company in 1975. Bryant owned many Armani suits that he wore and showed off, throughout his illustrious life. After Kobe Bryant retired from the NBA, he focused on business goals, diving into new ventures.
Kobe Bryant Was Building A Billion Dollar Business
Kobe Bryant had always been exceptionally hard working, and knew that when his basketball days were over, he would continue working just as hard. In 2013, he co-founded Bryant Stibel, a venture capital firm, together with the founder of Web.com, Jeff Stibel.
The company has assets worth more than $2 billion, as it invested in a lot of technology, data and media companies. Jeff Stibel expressed that Kobe had plans for much more to come. Bryant had also invested in Body Armor, a sports drink, and had made millions off of it. Its value skyrocketed when it sold a stake to beverage powerhouse Coca Cola in 2018. In 2016, Granity Studios was created by Bryant, which was a media company focused around storytelling that was creative and sports-based. Kobe Bryant always saw into the future. Kobe left his family with a $600 million fortune.