At age 12, Kobe Bryant was playing grown men in Italy
Kobe Bryant, who spent his childhood in Italy, was already playing grown men twice or even thrice his age.
Below is a photo of Bryant matching up against an Italian professional baller, as posted by Redditor r/lakers. One can immediately see the disparity in their size. Bryant was just 12 years old during this time.
For those wondering how on earth would a 12-year-old end face up against Italian grown men? Bryant’s father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played pro ball in Italy. No one really has background information regarding the photo. But his father might have had a hand or two in prodding him to play.
Bryant revealed that it was in Italy that his dream for playing in the NBA started. In 2011, during the NBA lockout, he even admitted that there was a good chance that he would play there. As reported by the Associated Press via The Guardian, Bryant said in 2011:
“It’s very possible. It would be a dream for me,” Bryant said, according to the Gazzetta. “There’s an opportunity that we’ve been discussing over the last few days. It’s very possible and that’s good news for me.”
“Italy is my home. It’s where my dream of playing in the NBA started. This is where I learned the fundamentals, learned to shoot, to pass and to [move] without the ball,” Kobe Bryant said. “All things that when I came back to America the players my age didn’t know how to do because they were only thinking about jumping and dunking.”