“Kobe was an outstanding and true Olympic champion,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “He embraced the power of sport to change people’s lives. After retiring from the game he loved so much, he continued to support the Olympic Movement and was an inspiration for the Olympic Games LA 2028. We will all miss his energy and his humble nature. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and those of all the other victims.”
True basketball legend
Bryant was drafted straight out of high school in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th overall pick, but the 17-year-old was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. With the storied franchise he won five NBA titles and retired after 20 years, with 33,643 points, 7,047 rebounds and 6,306 assists to his name.
“It carries a great honour. It goes above and beyond winning an NBA championship,” he said about winning his Olympic gold medals in a 2015 interview.
Bryant was instrumental in winning both gold medals. In the 2008 final, he scored 20 points and led the team in assist with six to make sure that the Redeem Team, as they were later nicknamed, finished ahead of Spain. In a 2012 rematch, he scored 17 points and Team USA prevailed again.
Nicknamed The Black Mamba, he became eligible to enter the Basketball Hall of Fame this year.
He also supported the OIympic Movement on various occasions. During the Olympic Day campaign in 2013, Kobe Bryant called on people around the globe to become active, and he himself gave training tips.