Kobe Bryant, the basketball legend and longtime star of the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on Sunday, January 26, 2020. He was 41.
Nine people were killed in the crash, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant.
Bryant, considered one of the greatest athletes to ever play the game, was seen as a rising star before he ever put on an NBA jersey. He went on to set records, rack up MVP awards and endorsements and win untold numbers of fans before he eventually retired from the sport in 2016.
Here's his remarkable story.
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Uncannily talented, the 6-foot-6-inch Bryant was still a teen when he first garnered national attention.
Here, a teenage Bryant dunks the ball at his high school gym in Lower Merion, Pennyslvania, during a practice in 1996. Speculation was high over whether he would choose college or go for the NBA draft.
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Here's Bryant in mid-April 1996 playing in Magic's Roundball Classic in Auburn Hills, Michigan. That spring, the high school senior was still being discussed as a possible college recruit. Those plans would soon change.
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It's the draft
In late April 1996, the Lower Merion High School phenom announced he'd forgo college and enter the NBA draft. Here he is at a press conference in the school gym in Ardmore, Pennyslvania, making the call.
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And the team is...
At 17, Bryant joined the NBA. He had been selected (13th overall) by the Charlotte Hornets. However, the Lakers had already had their eye on Bryant, and had crafted a deal with the North Carolina franchise to acquire the teen.
Here, Bryant jokes with the media as he holds his Los Angeles Lakers jersey during a news conference in 1996, in Inglewood, California.
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Big leagues, big scores
At the time, Bryant would become the youngest athlete to ever play in an NBA game. He soon gave seasoned vets a run for their money.
Here, Bryant and Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan chat during a game in 1997. During the bout, Bryant, 19 at the time, scored a team-high 33 points off the bench, and Jordan scored a team-high 36 points.
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Here, Bryant holds the trophy for winning the 1997 NBA Slam Dunk contest in Cleveland, Ohio. At the time, Bryant was the youngest player to win the contest.
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The late 1990s afforded Bryant the time he needed to get used to the pressures and demands of NBA life.
Here, Bryant goes up for a basket during a game against the Detroit Pistons in Inglewood, California, in January 1997.
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Love off the court
In 1999, when he was 21, Bryant met Vanessa Laine, a 17-year-old model. Laine was working as a background dancer for a music video. He proposed six months later, and they married in 2001. They had four daughters together: Natalia, 17; Gianna, 13, who died with her father in the helicopter crash; Bianka, 3; and Capri Kobe Bryant, born in June 2019.
Here, Bryant poses with his wife at the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar party.
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A premiere player
After Phil Jackson took over as Lakers coach in 1999, Bryant's performance only improved. He gained a reputation as a top shooting guard, and he found himself being recruited to All-NBA, All-Star, and All-Defensive teams.
Here, Bryant poses during a Lakers media day with Horace Grant, Shaquille O'Neal and Isaiah Rider in October 2000.
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During the early 2000s, Bryant and O'Neal formed a formidable defensive-scoring duo. The pair was largely credited for leading the Lakers to three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002.
Here, Shaquille O'Neal laughs with Kobe Bryant in the fourth quarter during the Lakers' win against the Chicago Bulls in November 2002.
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Sexual assault allegation
In July 2003, Bryant was arrested on suspicion of felony sexual assault after an encounter with a 19-year-old woman at a Colorado hotel. She said she was raped; he said the sex was consensual.
Bryant's reputation suffered as a result, and he lost at least two endorsement deals.
In September 2004, prosecutors dropped the case after the accuser declined to testify in court. An ensuing civil case was settled privately.
Afterward, Bryant made a public statement: "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... I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter."
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Ups and downs
The mid-2000s saw a mixed bag for Bryant and the Lakers.
In 2006, Bryant scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. His game was the second-highest point total in NBA history.
But championships eluded the Lakers during that period, and coach Jackson complained in a book that Bryant had become "un-coachable." Here, Bryant is seen during a victory over the New Orleans Hornets in Los Angeles in 2004.
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Frustrations with his team led Bryant to consider a trade in 2007, but he later changed his mind. That year, at 29, he became the youngest player, at the time, to reach 20,000 points.
A resurgence followed for the Lakers, and 2008-2010 were championship-winning years once again.
Here, Bryant celebrates victory following Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic in 2009 in Orlando, Florida.
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Elite fan club
Here, then-President Barack Obama poses for photographs with Bryant and other members of the NBA 2009 champion Lakers in the East Room of the White House in 2010.
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Playing through pain
As with so many elite athletes, pain began to plague Bryant, particularly after 2011. In 2013, he suffered a torn Achilles tendon. That injury healed, but the troubles weren't over. In the following two seasons, he dealt with more injuries to his knee and shoulder.
Here, Bryant poses for a portrait during a Lakers Media Day in 2011 in El Segundo, California.
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Plagued by injuries, Bryant announced in November 2015 that he would retire at the end of that season. He wrote a poem to mark the occasion: "A love so deep I gave you my all/From my mind & body/To my spirit & soul... I'm ready to let you go."
In this photo from 2016, Bryant reacts to the crowd as he walks on the court before a game -- his last -- against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.
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Bryant's jersey was retired in 2017.
Here, Bryant walks out to center court during his jersey retirement ceremony at halftime of a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
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Beyond the court
Throughout his career, Bryant maintained an interest in entertainment. He'd been in a rap group in high school and dabbled in music in the 2000s.
He also did work in the film business. In 2018, Bryant won an Academy Award for best animated short for "Dear Basketball."
Red carpet appearances
Here, Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Laine Bryant attend the 90th Annual Academy Awards in 2018, ahead of his Oscar win.
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Love from Hollywood
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bryant take a selfie at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California.
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Bryant attends the Los Angeles premiere of the film "Just Mercy" on January 6, 2020.
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Pain and memories
Tributes began to pour in after news broke of Bryant's death.
Shaquille O'Neal tweeted: "There's no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW"