The late Kobe Bryant is widely considered one of the best players in NBA history. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard was a 15-time All-NBA selection, a 12 All-Defensive Team selection, a five-time champion and also the 2007-08 league MVP.
Despite Bryant’s larger-than-life persona and reputation, there is still some mystery to one of the NBA’s greatest competitors. Let’s take a look!
1. Family ties
This is less of a fact about Kobe himself and more about his family as a whole. Bryant was destined to be a basketball player. A lot of people know that Kobe’s father, Joe, played in the NBA.
However, Bryant’s father isn’t his only connection to the league. Bryant’s uncle on his mother’s side also made it to the NBA. Unlike his brother-in-law and nephew, John “Chubby” Cox only lasted one season in the league (1982-83) when he played for the Washington Bullets.
2. Famous prom date
As a star basketball player, Kobe Bryant was likely pretty popular at Lower Merion high school in Philadelphia. Apparently, Bryant’s high school crush was none other than singer, recording artists and actress Brandy Norwood (known as Brandy).
The two took each other to prom as seniors and although Bryant was wildly successful in his career, he couldn’t claim a Grammy like his old prom date was able to do so.
3. A man of many languages
Obviously, Bryant knows how to speak English. However, did you know he speaks two other languages fluently?
Growing up in Italy where his father played professionally, Bryant quickly became fluent in Italian. The NBA star also learned to speak Spanish, which he often used to communicate with teammate and Spaniard Pau Gasol on and off the court.
Additionally, Bryant was also semi-fluent in French and also learned some Serbian and Slovenian from teammates like Sasha Vujacic and Vladimir Radmanovic.
4. Middle name
Bryant had one of the most unique middle names in all of sports. Bryant’s middle name “Bean” was given to him by his father,who was nicknamed “Jellybean” during his playing career.
While that is a fun fact in and of itself, you might not know that Bryant’s middle name does not actually appear on his birth certificate or any other official document like a passport.
5. Rap Career
Many NBA fans are aware of Bryant’s short-lived rap career, but what is not as well known is the history of his rap career.
Bryant has stated that he fell in love with hip-hop and rap while growing up in Italy– a passion that expanded when he moved to the United States.
As a high school student in 1992, Bryant was actually part of a Wu-Tang-style rap group called CHEIZAW with many of his high school friends. The group was actually signed by Sony Entertainment but was dropped before the release of their first album.
The name CHEIZAW apparently came from the Chi Sah gang in the 1979 martial arts movie Kid with the Golden Arm.