Could you imagine being nineteen years old and making five million dollars a year? Kobe Bryant, the son of former NBA player Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, jumped directly from high school to the pros in 1996 and enjoyed an impressive rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He also won the Nestle Crunch slam-dunk contest, and was the leading scorer in the Rookie Game during the NBA all-stars Weekend. Kobe Bryant could very well become one of the best basketball players to ever step on a basketball court.
Kobe's parents named him after a type of steak (Kobe) seen on a restaurant menu prior to his birth. This type of steak is very popular in Japan. Bryant is also fluent in Italian. Even though Bryant plays in the NBA, he is still a
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Bryant averaged 30.8 points per game, 12 rebounds per game, 6.5 assist per game, and 4 steals per game during his high school career. He led Lower Merion to Class AAAA state title with a 31-3 record. Bryant scored a career-high 50 points vs. Marple Newton and scored 34 points to go along with 15 rebounds, 6 assists, and 9 blocks to lead Lower Merion to District I Class AAA title over Chester. He scored 117 points and was named Most Outstanding Player in Prestigious Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Lakers wanted Bryant but were drafting late, so they made a deal with the Charlotte Hornets whereby Charlotte selected him with the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft, then dealt him to Los Angeles in exchange for center Vlade Divac.
Despite his youth and lack of college experience, Bryant was a significant contributor as the Lakers won 56 games in 1996-97. He scored in double figures 25 times, including a streak of seven within 10 games late in the season. He also grabbed the spotlight at the all-stars Weekend by winning the Nestle Crunch slam-dunk contest and leading all players with event-record 31 points in the Rookie game.
In 1998, Bryant continued to establish himself as one of the most exciting and popular young stars in the NBA in his second pro season. At 19, he became the youngest all-star in history when he was voted to a starting spot in the Western Conference lineup. Despite tremendous media attention