Considered by basketball fans and critics alike as the top player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) during the 2000s, Kobe Bryant led the Los Angeles Lakers to multiple championships while also establishing himself as one of the game's highest scoring and most skilled players. Born Kobe Bean Bryant on August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he spent a portion of his childhood in Italy, where his father, former NBA veteran Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, was playing in that country's A1 and A2 leagues. The younger Bryant began playing basketball at a very early age, and upon returning to the United States in 1991, launched an impressive high school career at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Philadelphia. He led the school's basketball team to four state championships before foregoing college to begin his professional career. In 1996, Bryant was selected by the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA draft, but was soon traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. There, he became the youngest All-Star in NBA history when he was elected as a starter in the 1998 All-Star game. With the addition of coach Phil Jackson and center Shaquille O'Neal to the Lakers' roster the following year, Bryant became part of a seemingly unbeatable triangle that led the team to three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002. The following year, both Bryant and the Lakers suffered setbacks: Jackson and O'Neal departed the team, and Bryant became embroiled in a high-profile sexual assault case which tarnished his career and ended several major promotional endorsements. Following the case's dismissal in 2004, Bryant would spend several years rebuilding his standing in the league. With the return of Jackson in 2006, he resumed his stellar ascent, scoring fifty or more points in consecutive games during the season and collecting his second All-Star Game MVP trophy. By 2010, Bryant had become the all-time leading scorer in Lakers history and collected his fourth and fifth championships against the Orlando Magic in 2009 and the Boston Celtics in 2010, respectively. Though subsequent years were plagued by injury, Bryant continued to play impressively into his 19th season, surpassing Michael Jordan's record in 2014 to become the NBA's third all-time leading scorer. Bryant announced on November 29, 2015 that he was planning to retire at the end of the 2015-16 season.
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Led his team to their first state championship in 53 years during his senior year at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, PA; selected by USA Today and Parade as National High School Player of the Year
Guest starred on the UPN sitcom "Moesha"
At age 18, he won the Slam Dunk contest during the NBA All-Star Weekend
Led the Lakers to an NBA championship "three-peat"
Won the NBA's Most Valuable Player award
Made his Olympic debut at the Summer Games in Beijing, China, where he won the gold medal along with the U.S. men's basketball team
Led the Lakers to two more NBA championships
Returned to play with the U.S. team and again won the gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games in London, England
Became the third highest scoring NBA player