Kobe Bean Bryant (born August 23, 1978) earned national recognition during a spectacular high school career at Lower Merion High School located in Ardmore, in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion. As a freshman, he played for the varsity basketball team. He became the first freshman in decades to start for Lower Merion’s varsity team, but the team finished with a 4–20 record. The following three years, the Aces compiled a 77–13 record, with Bryant playing all five positions.During his junior year, he averaged 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists and was named Pennsylvania Player of the Year, attracting attention from college recruiters in the process. Duke, North Carolina, Villanova and Michigan were at the top of his list; however, when Kevin Garnett went in the first round of the 1995 NBA Draft, he began considering going directly to the pros.
At Adidas ABCD camp, Bryant earned the 1995 senior MVP award, while playing alongside future NBA teammate Lamar Odom. While in high school, then 76ers coach John Lucas invited Bryant to work out and scrimmage with the team, where he played one-on-one with Jerry Stackhouse. In his senior year of high school, Bryant led 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. Bryant ended his high school career as Southeastern Pennsylvania’s all-time leading scorer at 2,883 points, surpassing both Wilt Chamberlain and Lionel Simmons.
Bryant received several awards for his performance his senior year including being named Naismith High School Player of the Year, GatoradeMen’s National Basketball Player of the Year, a McDonald’s All-American, and a USA Today All-USA First Team player. Bryant’s varsity coach, Greg Downer, commented that he was “a complete player who dominates” and praised his work ethic, even as the team’s top player. In 1996, Bryant took R&B singer Brandy to his senior prom, though the two were, and remain, just friends. Ultimately, however, the 17-year-old Bryant made the decision to go directly into the NBA, only the sixth player in NBA history to do so. Bryant’s news was met with a lot of publicity at a time when prep-to-pro NBA players were not very common (Garnett being the only exception in 20 years). His basketball skills and SAT score of 1080 would have ensured admission to any college he chose, but he did not officially visit any campuses.
In 2012, Bryant was honored as one of the 35 Greatest McDonald’s All- Americans.
Career highlights and awards
5× NBA champion (2000–2002, 2009–2010)
2× NBA Finals MVP (2009–2010)
NBA Most Valuable Player (2008)
17× NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2015)
4× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011)
11× All-NBA First Team (2002–2004, 2006–2013)
2× All-NBA Second Team (2000–2001)
2× All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2005)
9× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000, 2003–2004, 2006–2011)
3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2001–2002, 2012)
2× NBA scoring champion (2006–2007)
NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (1997)
NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1997)
Los Angeles Lakers all-time leading scorer
Naismith Prep Player of the Year (1996)