LOS ANGELES — It was 1996 when high school phenom Kobe Bryant was drafted. Twenty years later, he retired as one of the greatest Los Angeles Lakers of all time.

Bryant was born in Philadelphia as the youngest of three kids. His father was former NBA player Joe Bryant.


The family grew up in Italy, where Joe Bryant played professional ball.

Bryant took to the game early, starting to play at age 3.

When his dad retired, the family moved back to the United States. He passed up going to college, instead opting to go straight into the NBA draft.

The Lakers traded for Bryant on draft night in 1996 after he was taken at number 13—a dream for Bryant who grew up a Lakers fan.

And it didn't take long for the teenage Bryant to impress. 

He won the slam dunk contest in his rookie year, becoming the youngest champ ever and helping his team reach the Western Conference semi finals.

His second season was his breakthrough year, becoming the youngest NBA All Star starter in history.

In his third year, Bryant showed the league that he wasn't just an All Star, he was a super star.

A year later, with Shaquille O'Neal by his side, the Lakers dominated the league, winning three straight NBA Championships.

Bryant played on two Olympic teams for the United States, winning gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

He went on to win two more championships in 2009 and 2010, being named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in both victories. He played 20 seasons for the Lakers and was named an All Star in 18 of those seasons, before retiring from the game in 2016.

After his basketball career, Bryant dove into the business world with the same passion he showed on the court.

He produced television shows, invested in companies, wrote a book, and even produced an animated short called Dear Basketball, which won an Academy Award in 2018.

Bryant was 41 years old.