Kobe Bryant, one of the most celebrated players in NBA history, died in a helicopter crash last month that killed nine people. Bryant was 41 years old.
Bryant played in high school in a Philadelphia suburb and racked up 2,883 points over the course of four years. In 1996, he entered the NBA draft. He was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 13th overall draft pick that year.
In his second season with the Lakers, Bryant became the youngest All-Star in NBA history when he was 19 years old. Over the course of his career, he played in seven NBA Finals, and the Lakers won five of those championships.
In 2006, he racked up a career-high 81 points in a single game. This ranks second in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962.
Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, and he was the All-Star MVP in 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011. He was the league MVP in 2008, and won gold medals with Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
He was injured in 2013 and was out for the rest of that season. He battled through several other injuries over the next few seasons before deciding to retire in 2016, after 20 seasons with the Lakers. Bryant made sure to leave on a high note though. In his last NBA game, he scored a league season-high 60 points.
After retiring, he started a business, published a book about his life and mentality on playing basketball, and wrote and narrated an Academy Award-winning animated short about his love of the game. Bryant was married to his wife, Vanessa, for almost 20 years. The couple had four daughters. His 13-year-old daughter also died in the crash.
After Bryant’s death, tributes for him and his daughter, Gianna, poured in from around the world. He has inspired countless athletes and will undoubtedly continue to do so.