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When did Kobe Bryant's NBA career begin?

When I first heard the news today about Kobe Bryant, I thought for sure this was another one of those terrible "jokes" about a famous person's passing. I was saddened when I fact checked and found he had in fact perished along with his daughter and 7 others in a helicopter crash today.

I'm a Kobe Bryant fan through and through. Michael Jordan was of course THE MAN when I was growing up, but I quickly switched to team Bryant upon his draft November 3, 1996. Not only was he an incredible basketball player, but at the time he was the youngest ever NBA player (18 years 72 days old) and he was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers (originally drafted 13th overall by the Hornets, he was immediately traded to the Lakers) ! A team for whom I held a candle for ever since I became aware of NBA teams. He also had a smile that could melt hearts.

He was ferocious on the court, an excellent ball hander and on-point shooter, but that smile... you couldn't miss it. His face said it all. You could see how the game was going by examining Kobe's facial expression. He played in 18 All-Star games, and was named MVP of 4 of those. He earned NBA's MVP award in the 2007-08 season. He has been on 5 U.S. National basketball teams and helped lead them to gold in the Olympics in 2008 and 2012 and won 5 NBA championships with the Lakers.

Speaking of the legend Michael Jordan... In 2014, Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan for third on the all-time scoring list. Kobe ended his career with a total of 33,643 points. LeBron James just passed Kobe yesterday, (January 25th, 2020) to claim the 3rd spot on the all time scoring list behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with (38,387), and Karl Malone (36,928).

I believe Kobe will be known as one of the all-time greats of the sport of basketball. I was interested in seeing how Kobe would continue his legacy with his Mamba Sports Academy. And I'm not alone in grieving the loss of lives that occurred today.

I will say this, we can use the memories of those who pass away before us as a way to carry on their best traits, trying to be a better version of ourselves and honor them in the lives we lead. How will those who have gone before you help guide you in a better direction?

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