Kobe Bryant is a professional basketball player with an estimated net worth of $360 million. Born on August 23, 1978 to Joe and Pamela Bryant as the youngest of three children in Philadelphia, he knew for a long time he would play sports as his father was also a professional basketball player. As the nephew of basketball player John “Chubby” Cox, he was exposed to the game very early. His father left the NBA when Bryant was only 6 and the family moved to Italy so his father could continue his professional sports career. He now speaks fluent Italian, but he did spend every summer in the United States playing basketball programs. He was only three when he began playing the sport.
Ironically, Kobe Bryant’s favorite team as a child was the LA Lakers, and that would be the team he’d go on to play for his entire career. After moving back to the states in 1991, Kobe Bryant began attending Lower Merion High School in a Philly suburb, where he earned national recognition for his exceptional skill. College recruiters from North Carolina, Michigan, Duke and Villanova came to see him play, but he ultimately decided that since Kevin Garnett was chosen in the first round of the NBA draft he would do the same.
During high school, he played alongside future teammate Lamar Odom at an Adidas camp, and got to know a few other guys that would go onto play in the pros with him. He took famed R&B singer Brandy to his senior prom, wrapped up his final year in high school with a number of awards and recognitions for his outstanding skill, and became the sixth person to enter the NBA draft right out of high school. Many found his decision to be a questionable one considering he had an SAT score of 1080 to go along with his exceptional basketball skills, which meant he could have attended any university of his choice for the most part. Fortunately for Bryant, his plan worked out as he was the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 1996 NBA draft. He was chosen by the Charlotte Hornets, but the Hornets had already made an agreement to trade their pick to the LA Lakers – and the Lakers wanted Bryant.
Lakers’ center Vlade Divac was the trade that the Lakers made in order to get Bryant from the Hornets. He became a starter as the season wore on his first year, and then he won the NBA slam dunk contest the same year. He married his wife in 2001, only about a year or so after he met her when she was only 17 and he was 21. His family did not believe in their marriage, and they did not attend. He was later accused of sexually assaulting a young woman in a hotel, but he claimed that their night together was consensual and she dropped charges. His wife, Vanessa, stood by him throughout, but did announce in 2011 that the couple intended to divorce. They called off their divorce in 2013 and the couple has two children together.
Bryant’s net worth comes from his job with the Lakers and from his endorsements. He signed a $48 million endorsement before the beginning of the 1996-1997 season with Adidas, he had a $45 million endorsement with Nike and he had several other endorsements with Nintendo, Nutella and McDonalds that were terminated after he was accusing of sexual assault. He’s now endorsing Coca-Cola as well as Turkish Airlines. Kobe Bryant announced in 2015 he would retire after the current season; ticket sales to see Kobe Bryant play his final season are already through the roof.