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Monday, February 23, 2009

Who is Kobe Bean Bryant?

Who is Kobe Bean Bryant?[1] Thebasketball world knows him as Kobe Bryant, he is an American All-Star shooting guard who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. Bryant and then-teammate Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. After O'Neal's departure following the 2003–04 season, Bryant became the cornerstone of the Lakers franchise. He led NBA in scoring during the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons.[2] In 2006, Bryant scored a career high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second highest number of points scored in a single game in NBA history,[3] second only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point performance.
Bryant was awarded the regular season's Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) in the 2007–08 NBA season after leading his team to the 2008 NBA Finals as the first seed in the Western Conference.[4] In 2008, he won a gold medal as a member of the 2008 Summer Olympics U.S. Men's Basketball Team, occasionally referred to as "The Redeem Team," a play on the name of the first Olympic team that featured NBA players, the Dream Team.[5]
In 2003, Bryant made headlines when he was accused of sexual assault at a hotel in Edwards, Colorado by a hotel employee. Bryant admitted an adulterous sexual encounter with the accuser, but denied the sexual assault allegation. In September 2004, prosecutors dropped the case after his accuser informed them that she was unwilling to testify.[6] Bryant's accuser brought a separate civil suit against him that was ultimately settled out of court.

Kobe Bryant was born August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the youngest of three children and the only son of Joe and Pam Bryant.[2] Bryant is the son of former Philadelphia 76ers player and former Los Angeles Sparks head coach Joe "Jellybean" Bryant. His parents named him after the famous beef of Kobe, Japan, which they saw on a restaurant menu.[2] He is also the maternal nephew of John "Chubby" Cox. When Bryant was six, his father left the NBA and moved his family to Italy to begin playing professional basketball.[7] Bryant became accustomed to his new lifestyle and learned to speak Italian fluently.[7] He started playing basketball when he was 3 years old,[8] and an an early age he learned to play soccer, his favorite team was AC Milan.[9] He has said that if he had stayed in Italy, he would have tried to become a professional soccer player;[9] Bryant is a big fan of former FC Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard and their former player Ronaldinho.[10] In 1991, the Bryant family moved back to the United States.

Bryant earned national recognition during a spectacular high school career at Lower Merion High School located in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion. His father coached him his sophomore (second) year of high school. While in High School then 76ers coach John Lucas invited Bryant to workout and scrimmage with the team, where he played one-on-one with Jerry Stackhouse.[11] In his senior year of high school, Bryant lead the Aces to their first State Championship in 53 years. During the run, he averaged 30.8 points, 12 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4.0 steals, and 3.8 blocked shots in leading the Aces to a 31-3 record.[12] Bryant received several awards for his performance his senior year including being named Naismith High School player of the Year, a McDonald's All-American, and a USA Today All-USA First Team player.[13] Bryant's varsity coach, Greg Downer, commented that Bryant was "a complete player who dominates".[12] In 1996, Bryant he took R&B singer Brandy Norwood to his senior prom,[14] though the two were/are just friends. His SAT score of 1080[15] would have ensured his basketball scholarship to various top-tier colleges. Ultimately, however, the 17-year-old Bryant made the decision to go directly into the NBA. Bryant's news was met with a lot of publicity at a time when prep-to-pro NBA players wasn't very common (Kevin Garnett being the only exception in 20 years). Bryant has stated that had he decided to go to college after high school, he would have attended Duke University.[16]




Bryant was chosen as the 13th overall draft pick by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996. However, according to Arn Tellem, Bryant's agent at the time, Bryant playing for the Charlotte Hornets was "an impossibility".[17] Nevertheless, the Charlotte Hornets selected Bryant, seeing that there was a chance to trade with the Lakers.[17] Prior the draft, Bryant had worked out in Los Angeles, in which he scrimmaged against former Lakers players Larry Drew and Michael Cooper, and according to then-Laker manager Jerry West "marched over these people".[18] On July 1, 1996, West traded his starting center, Vlade Divac, to the Hornets in exchange for Bryant's draft rights.[19] Since he was still 17 at the time of the draft, his parents had to cosign his contract with the Lakers until he was able to sign his own when he turned 18 before the season began.[20]


During his rookie season, Bryant mostly came off the bench behind guards Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel.[21] At the time he became the youngest player ever to play and start in an NBA game (both records since being broken by teammate Andrew Bynum). Initially, Bryant played limited minutes, but as the season continued, he began to see some more playing time. By the end of the season, he averaged 15.5 minutes a game. He earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan-favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest.[22] Bryant's performance throughout the year earned him a spot on the NBA All Rookie second team with fellow bench teammate Travis Knight.[23] His final minutes of the season ended in disaster when he shot 2 air balls at crucial times in the game.[24] He missed the first shot to win the game in the 4th quarter and a three pointer to send the game into double overtime. With that the Utah Jazz ended the playoffs for the Lakers in the first round. Shaquille O'Neal commented years later that "[Bryant] was the only guy who had the guts at the time to take shots like that."[25]
In Bryant's second season, he received more playing time and began to show more of his abilities as a talented young guard. As a result Bryant's point averages more then doubled from 7.6 to 15.4 points per game.[26] Bryant would see an increase in minutes when the Lakers "played small", which would feature Bryant playing small forward along side the guards he'd usually backup.[27] Bryant was the runner-up for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award,[28] and through fan voting, he also became the youngest NBA All-Star starter in NBA History.[29] He was joined by fellow team mates Shaquille O'Neal, Nick Van Exel, and Eddie Jones, making it the first time since 1983 that four players have been selected to play in the same All-Star Game.
The 1998–99 season marked Bryant's emergence as a premiere guard in the league. With starting guards Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones traded Bryant started every game for the lockout-shortened 50 game season. Even at an early stage of his career sportswriters were comparing his skills to that of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. [30][31][32] The playoff results, however, were no better, as the Lakers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semi-finals.[33]



Bryant's fortunes would soon change when Phil Jackson became coach for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999.[34] After years of steady improvement, Bryant became one of the premier shooting guards in the league, earning several presence in the league's All-NBA,[35] All-Star, and All-Defensive teams.[36] The Los Angeles Lakers became premier championship contenders under Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, who formed an outstanding center-guard combination. Jackson utilized the triangle offense he used to win six championships with the Chicago Bulls, which would help both Bryant and O'Neal rise to the elite class of the NBA. The three resulting championships won consecutively in 2000, 2001, and 2002 further proved such a fact.[37]

Bryant started the 1999-2000 NBA season sidelined for six weeks due to an injury to his hand in a preseason game against the Washington Wizards.[38] With Bryant back and playing the first full season as a starter, he saw an increase in all statistical categories in the 1999-2000 season. This included leading the team in assists per game and steals per game. The duo of O'Neal and Bryant backed with a strong bench lead to the Lakers winning 67 games, tied for 5th most in NBA history. This followed with O'Neal winning the MVP and Bryant being named to the All-NBA Team Second Team and All NBA Defensive Team for the first time in his career (the youngest player ever to receive defensive honors[39]). While playing second fiddle to O'Neal in the playoffs, Bryant had some clutch performances including a 25 point, 11 rebound, 7 assist, 4 block game in game 7 of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Trailblazers.[40] He also threw an alley-oop pass to O'Neal to clinch the game and the series. In the 2000 NBA Finals against the Indiana Pacers, Bryant injured his ankle in the second quarter of game 2 and was out until game 4. In game 4, O'Neal fouled out of the game in over time, so Bryant took the lead and scored eight points and put the Lakers ahead 120-118 for the win.[41] With a game 6 victory, the Lakers won their first championship since 1988.










Statically, the 2000-01 NBA season saw Bryant preform similarly to the previous year except Bryant was averaging 6 more points a game (28.5). It was also the year when disagreements between Bryant and O'Neal began to surface.[42] Once again he led the team in assists with 5 per game. The Lakers however, only won 56 games, an 11 game drop off from last year. The Lakers would respond by going 15-1 in the playoffs. They easily swept the Portland Trailblazers, Sacramento Kings, and San Antonio Spurs, before losing their first game against the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime. They would go on to win the next 4 games and bring their second championship to Los Angeles in as many seasons. During the playoffs Bryant played heavy minutes which brought his stats up to 29.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. In the playoffs teammate O'Neal declared Bryant the best player in the league.[43][12] Bryant ended up making the All NBA Second team and All NBA Defensive Team for the second year in a row. In addition, he also voted to start in the NBA All-Star Game for the 3rd year in a row (no game in 1999).
In the 2001-02 season, Bryant played 80 games for the first time in his career. He continued his all-round play by averaging 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. He also had a career high 46.9% shooting and once again led his team in assists. While making the All-Star team and All NBA Defensive team again, he was also promoted to the All NBA First Team for the first time in his career. The Lakers won 58 games that year and finished second place in the Pacific Division behind in-state rival Sacramento Kings. The road to the Finals would prove a lot tougher then the record run the Lakers had the previous year. While the Lakers swept the Trailblazers and defeated the Spurs 4-1, the Lakers didn't have home court advantage against the Sacramento Kings. The series would stretch to 7 games, the first time this happened to the Lakers since the Western Conference Finals in the 2000 NBA Playoffs. However the Lakers were able to beat their division rivals and make their third consecutive NBA Finals appearance. In the 2002 Finals, Bryant averaged 26.8 points, 51.4% shooting, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists per game, which included scoring a quarter of the teams points.[44] At age 23, Bryant became the youngest player to win three championships.[44] Bryant's play was notable and praised for his performance in the 4th quarter of games, specifically the last 2 rounds of the playoffs.[44][45] This cemented Bryant's reputation as a clutch player.


In the 2002–03 NBA season, Bryant averaged 30 points per game and embarked on a historic run, posting 40 or more points in nine consecutive games while averaging 40.6 in the entire month of February. In addition, he averaged 6.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, all career highs up to that point. For the first time in his career Bryant was voted on to both the All-NBA and All-Defensive 1st teams.[2] After finishing 50–32 in the regular season, the Lakers floundered in the playoffs and lost in the Western Conference semi-finals to the eventual NBA champions San Antonio Spurs in six games.[46]












In the following 2003–04 NBA season, the Lakers were able to acquire NBA All Stars Karl Malone, and Gary Payton to make another push at the NBA Championship.[47] Before the season began, Bryant was arrested for sexual assault.[48] This caused Bryant to miss some games do to court appearances or attend court earlier in the day and travel to play games later in same day.[49][50] However, with a starting lineup of four future Hall of Famer, O'Neal, Malone, Payton, and Bryant, the Lakers were able to reach the NBA Finals.[51] In the Finals, they were eliminated by the Detroit Pistons in 5 games. In that series, Bryant averaged 22.6 points per game and 4.4 assists. He shot a mere 35.1% from the field.[52] Phil Jackson's contract as coach was not renewed, and Rudy Tomjanovich took over.[53] Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant.[54] The following day, Bryant declined an offer to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers and re-signed with the Lakers on a seven-year contract.[55]



Bryant was closely scrutinized and criticized during the 2004–05 season with his reputation badly damaged from all that had happened over the previous year. A particularly damaging salvo came when Phil Jackson wrote The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul. The book detailed the events of the Lakers' tumultuous 2003–04 season and has a number of criticisms of Bryant. In the book Jackson called Bryant "uncoachable".[56]
Midway through the season, Rudy Tomjanovich suddenly resigned as Lakers coach, citing the recurrence of health problems and exhaustion. Without Tomjanovich, stewardship of the remainder of the Lakers' season fell to career assistant coach Frank Hamblen.[57] Despite the fact that Bryant was the league's second leading scorer at 27.6 points per game, the Lakers floundered and missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The year signified a drop in Bryant's overall status in the NBA, as he did not make the NBA All-Defensive Team and was also demoted to the All-NBA Third Team.[58]
The 2005–06 NBA season would mark a crossroads in Bryant's basketball career. Despite past differences with Bryant, Phil Jackson returned to coach the Lakers.[59] Bryant endorsed the move, and by all appearances, the two men worked together well the second time around, leading the Lakers back into the playoffs. The team posted a 45–37 record, an eleven-game improvement over the previous season, and the entire squad seemed to be clicking.[60]

In the first round of the playoffs, the Lakers played well enough (reaching a 3–1 series lead) to come within six seconds of eliminating the second-seeded Phoenix Suns in Game 6. The Lakers lost that game 126 to 118 in overtime.[61] Despite Bryant's 27.8 points per game in the series, the Lakers broke down, and ultimately fell to the Suns in seven games.[61] In the 2006 off-season, Bryant had knee surgery, preventing him from participating in the 2006 FIBA World Championship tournament.[62]









Bryant's individual scoring accomplishments posted resulted in the finest statistical season of his career. On December 20, 2005, Bryant scored 62 points in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. Entering the fourth quarter, Bryant had, by himself, outscored the entire Mavericks team 62–61, the only time a player has done this through three quarters since the advent of the 24-second shot clock.[63] When the Lakers faced the Miami Heat on January 16, 2006, Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal made headlines by engaging in handshakes and hugs before the game, signifying the end of the feud that had festered between the two players since O'Neal's departure from Los Angeles.[64] A month later, at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, the two laughed together on several occasions.[65] On January 22, 2006, Bryant scored 81 points in a 122–104 victory against the Toronto Raptors.[66][3] In addition to breaking the previous franchise record of 71 set by Elgin Baylor, his point total in that game was the second highest in NBA history, surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962.[67]
In that same month, Bryant also became the first player since 1964 to score 45 points or more in four consecutive games, joining Chamberlain and Baylor as the only players ever to do so.[68] For the month of January, Bryant averaged 43.4 points per game,[69] the eighth highest single month scoring average in NBA history and highest for any player other than Chamberlain.[70] By the end of the season, Bryant set Lakers single-season franchise records for most 40-point games (27) and most points scored (2,832).[71] He won the league's scoring title for the first time, posting a scoring average of (35.4). Bryant finished in fourth place in the voting for the 2006 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, but received 22 first place votes—second only to winner Steve Nash.[72]
Later in the season, it was reported that Bryant would change his jersey number from 8 to 24 at the start of the 2006–07 NBA season. Bryant's first high school number was 24 before he switched to 33.[73] After the Lakers' season ended, Bryant said on TNT that he wanted 24 as a rookie, but it was unavailable, as was 33, retired with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bryant wore 143 at the Adidas ABCD camp, and chose 8 by adding those numbers.[73]
During the 2006–07 season, Bryant was selected to his 9th All-Star Game appearance, and on February 18, he logged 31 points, 6 assists, and 6 steals, earning his second career All-Star Game MVP trophy.[74]






Over the course of the season, Bryant became involved in a number of on court incidents. On January 28 while attempting to draw contact on a potential game winning jumpshot, he flailed his arm striking San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili in the face with his elbow.[75] Following a league review, Bryant was suspended for the subsequent game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. The basis given for the suspension was that Bryant had performed an "unnatural motion" in swinging his arm backwards.[76] Later, on March 6, he seemed to repeat the motion, this time striking Minnesota Timberwolves guard Marko Jarić.[75] On March 7, the NBA handed Bryant his second one-game suspension.[77] In his first game back on March 9, he elbowed Kyle Korver in the face which was retrospectively re-classified as a Type 1 flagrant foul.[75]


On March 16, Bryant scored a season-high 65 points in a home game against the Portland Trail Blazers, which helped end the Lakers 7-game losing streak. This was the second best scoring performance of his 11-year career.[78] The following game, Bryant recorded 50 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves,[79] after which he scored 60 points in a road win against the Memphis Grizzlies—becoming the second Laker to score three straight 50-plus point games, a feat not seen since Michael Jordan last did it in 1987.[80] The only other Laker to do so was Elgin Baylor, who also scored 50+ in three consecutive contests in December 1962.[80] In the following day, in a game against the New Orleans Hornets, Bryant scored 50 points, making him the second player in NBA history to have 4 straight 50 point games behind Wilt Chamberlain, who is the all-time leader with seven consecutive 50 point games twice.[81] Bryant finished the year with a total of ten 50-plus point games,[82] becoming the only player beside Wilt Chamberlain in 1961–62 and 1962–63 to do so in one season. He also won his second straight scoring title that season.[83]
During the 2006–07 season, Bryant's jersey became the top selling NBA jersey in the United States and China.[84] A number of journalists have attributed the improved sales to Bryant's new number, as well as his continuing All-Star performance on the court.[85][86] In the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers were once again eliminated in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.[87]


On May 27, 2007, ESPN reported that Bryant stated that he wanted to be traded if Jerry West did not return to the team with full authority.[88] Bryant later confirmed his desire for West's return to the franchise, but denied stating that he would want to be traded if that does not occur.[89] However, three days later, on Stephen A. Smith's radio program, Bryant expressed anger over a Lakers "insider" who claimed that Bryant was responsible for Shaquille O'Neal's departure from the team, and publicly stated, "I want to be traded." Three hours after making that statement, Bryant stated in another interview that after having a conversation with head coach Phil Jackson, he has reconsidered his decision and backed off his trade request.[90] On December 23 2007, Bryant became the youngest player (29 years, 122 days) to reach 20,000 points, in a game against the New York Knicks, in Madison Square Garden.[91]
Despite an injury to his shooting hand's small finger, described as "a complete tear of the radial collateral ligament, an avulsion fracture, and a volar plate injury at the MCP joint" that occurred in a game on February 5, 2008, Bryant played all 82 games of the regular season instead of opting for surgery. Regarding his injury, he stated, "I would prefer to delay any surgical procedure until after our Lakers season, and this summer's Olympic Games. But, this is an injury that myself [sic] and the Lakers' medical staff will just have to continue to monitor on a day-to-day basis."[92] In September 2008 Bryant decided not to have surgery to repair the injury.[93]


Leading his team to a West best 57–25 record, they swept the Nuggets in the first round and on May 6, 2008, Bryant was officially announced as the NBA Most Valuable Player award, his first for his career.[4] He said, "It's been a long ride. I'm very proud to represent this organization, to represent this city."[94] Jerry West, who was responsible for bringing Bryant to the Lakers was on hand at the press conference to observe Bryant receive his MVP trophy from NBA commissioner David Stern. He stated, "Kobe deserved it. He's had just another great season. Doesn't surprise me one bit."[95] In addition to winning his MVP award, Bryant was the only unanimous selection to the All-NBA team on May 8, 2008 for the third straight season and sixth time in his career.[96] He would then headline the NBA All-Defensive First Team with Kevin Garnett, receiving 52 points overall including 24 first-place nods, earning his eighth selection.[97]
The Lakers concluded the 2007–08 regular season with a 57–25 record, finishing first in the Western Conference and setting up themselves for a first-round contest against the Nuggets. In Game 1, Bryant, who said he made himself a decoy through most of the game, scored 18 of his 32 points in the final 8 minutes to keep Los Angeles safely ahead.[98] That made Denver the first 50-win team to be swept out of the first round of the playoffs since the Memphis Grizzlies fell in four to the San Antonio Spurs in 2004.[99] In the first game of the next round against the Jazz, Bryant scored 38 points as the Lakers beat the Jazz in Game 1.[100] The Lakers won the next game as well, but dropped Games 3 and 4, even with Bryant putting up 33.5 points per game.[101] The Lakers then won the next two games to win the semifinals in 6.[101] This set up a Western Conference Finals berth against the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers defeated the Spurs in 5 games, sending them to the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. This marked the fifth time in Bryant's career and the first time without Shaquille O'Neal to go to the NBA Finals.[102] The Lakers then lost to the Boston Celtics in 6 games.[103]


The Lakers opened the 2008-2009 campaign by winning their first seven games.[104] Bryant led the Lakers to several key games against contenders for the NBA title, including a 92-83 win against Boston on an anticipated Christmas day matchup,[105] a 105-88 win against Cleveland on January 19, 2009[106], and a 6-0 road trip dating from January 30 to February 8, 2009 (which included two more respective wins over the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers).[107] On January 31, 2009, during a road game against the Memphis Grizzlies, center Andrew Bynum suffered an ACL injury to his left knee.[108] In the Lakers' next game against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, Bryant scored 61 points on 61% shooting in a 126-117 win.[109] Bryant's scoring outburst set a record for the most points ever scored at the historic Madison Square Garden, breaking Bernard King's record.[110] As of February 11, 2009, Bryant's performance was also the highest single game point total of the 2008-2009 season in the NBA.[111].














On February 15, 2009, Bryant who tallied 27 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals was awarded All-Star Game co-MVP with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal.[112] On Sunday February 22nd Kobe Bryant scored 28 points in a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves to pass Elgin Baylor on the NBA's All-Time scoring list at 20th place. As a part of his international expansion, he is also featured in a Chinese reality TV show, called the Kobe Mentu show, which documents Chinese basketball players on different teams going through drills, preparing to play each other while Bryant gives advice and words of encouragement to the players while they practice.[113]


On June 23, 2008, he was named to the USA Men's Senior National Team for the 2008 Summer Olympics.[114] This was his first time going to the Olympics.
Bryant scored 20 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, along with six assists, as Team USA defeated Spain 118-107 in the Gold Medal Game of the 2008 Summer Olympics on August 24, 2008, breaking their drought of Olympics gold medals dating back to the 2000 Olympics.[115] He averaged 15.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting .462 from the field in eight Olympic contests.


Bryant is a shooting guard who is capable of playing the small forward position. He is considered one of the most complete players in NBA history,[116] has been elected to every All-NBA Team since 1999, and has been featured in the last eleven NBA All-Star games.[2] He is a prolific scorer, averaging 25.1 points per game for his career, along with 4.6 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals.[117] He is known for his ability to create shots for himself, and is an adept outside shooter, sharing the single-game NBA record for three pointers made with twelve.[118] He has exceptional ballhandling skills and utilizes his speed and athletic ability to elude defenders to finish at the basket. Aside from this, he is also a standout defender, having made the All-Defensive first and second team eight of the last nine seasons.[2] After having been represented by Tellem, Kobe is now represented by Rob Pelinka.[119]


In November 1999, 21 year old Bryant met 17 year old Vanessa Laine while she was working as a background dancer on the Tha Eastsidaz music video "G'd Up".[120] Bryant was in the building working on his debut musical album, which was never released.
The two began dating and became engaged just six months later in May 2000,[120] while Laine was still a senior at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California. To avoid media scrutiny, she finished high school through independent study.[120] According to Vanessa's cousin Laila Laine, there was no prenuptial agreement. Vanessa said Bryant "loved her too much for one".[121]
They married on April 18, 2001 in Dana Point, California. Neither Bryant's parents, his two sisters, longtime advisor and agent Arn Tellem, nor Bryant's Laker teammates attended. Bryant's parents were opposed to the marriage for a number of reasons. Reportedly Bryant's parents had problems with him marrying so young, especially to a woman who was not African-American.[120] This disagreement resulted in an estrangement period of over two years, during which Kobe Bryant did not have any contact with his parents.
The Bryants' first child, a daughter named Natalia Diamante Bryant, was born on January 19, 2003. The birth of Natalia influenced Bryant to reconcile his differences with his parents. Vanessa Bryant suffered a miscarriage due to an ectopic pregnancy in the spring of 2005. Their second daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, was born on May 1, 2006. Gianna was born six minutes ahead of former teammate Shaquille O'Neal's daughter Me'arah Sanaa, who was born in Florida. [122] In an early 2007 interview, it was revealed that Bryant still speaks Italian fluently.[7]



In the summer of 2003, the sheriff's office of Eagle, Colorado arrested Kobe Bryant in connection with an investigation of a sexual assault complaint filed by 19-year old hotel employee Katelyn Faber. Bryant had checked into The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera hotel in Eagle, Colorado in advance of undergoing knee surgery nearby. Faber accused Bryant of raping her in his hotel room the night before Bryant was to have the procedure. Bryant admitted an adulterous sexual encounter with his accuser, but denied her sexual assault allegation.[123][124]
The accusation tarnished Bryant's reputation, as the public's perception of Bryant plummeted, and his endorsement contracts with McDonald's, Nutella, and Ferrero SpA were terminated. Sales figures from NBA merchandisers indicate that sales of Bryant's replica jersey fell far off from their previous highs.[125]

During the investigation, Bryant told police that "he should have done what Shaq does ... that Shaq would pay his women not to say anything" and that O'Neal already had paid up to $1 million "for situations like this." This created controversy because Bryant and O'Neal were teammates at the time and many thought that Bryant broke "locker-room code" by revealing confidential information.[126]



However, in September 2004 the assault case was dropped by prosecutors after Faber refused to testify in the trial. Afterwords, Bryant agreed to "apologize" to the victim for the incident, including his public mea culpa: "Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did."[127] Faber filed a separate civil lawsuit against Bryant, which the two sides ultimately settled with the specific terms of the settlement being undisclosed to the public. Bryant's endorsement deals resumed again with certain companies like Nike, Spalding, and Coca-Cola.[128]


Before starting the 1996-97 NBA season, Bryant signed a 5 year contract with Adidas. Bryant's other earlier endorsements included deals with The Coca-Cola Company to endorse their Sprite soft drink, appearing in advertisements for McDonald's, promoting Spalding's new NBA Infusion Ball, Upper Deck, and the Italian chocolate company Ferrero SpA's brand called Nutella. McDonald's and Ferrero SpA terminated his contracts when rape allegations became public.[129] A notable exception was Nike, Inc., who had signed him to a 5 year $40-45 million contract just before the incident.[130][131] However, they refused to use his image or market a new shoe of his for the year.
He has since resumed endorsement deals with The Coca-Cola Company , through their subsidiary Energy Brands to promote their Vitamin Water brand of drinks.[132] Bryant was also the cover athlete for NBA '07: Featuring the Life Vol. 2and appeared in a commercial for the video game Guitar Hero World Tour with Tony Hawk, Michael Phelps, and Alex Rodriguez in 2008. Nike held onto Bryant and eventually did start promoting Bryant once his image was back up 2 years later.[131] After promoting Nike's Hyperdunk shoes, Bryant recently came out with his own signature shoe by Nike, the Zoom Kobe IV.
CNN has estimated his endorsement deals in 2007 to be worth $16 million.[133] more

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