Kobe Bryant's legendary basketball career in photos
Kobe Bryant, a longtime player for the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 at age 41.
Kobe Bryant dunks the ball at his high school gym in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, during a practice in 1996. The 6-foot-6 suburban Philadelphia phenom would have had his pick of college teams but he decided to jump right from high school to professional basketball. "I... have decided to skip college and take my talents to the NBA," said Bryant.
Kobe Bryant, 17, jokes with the media as he holds his Los Angeles Lakers jersey during a news conference in Inglewood, Calif. Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets but quickly traded to the Lakers in exchange for veteran center Vlade Divac.
Kobe Bryant goes in for a layup against the Utah Jazz during the second half of their playoff game in 1997 in Inglewood, California.
Kobe Bryant jumps into the arms of Shaquille O'Neal as the Lakers celebrate winning the NBA Championship on June 19, 2000, after game 6 of the finals at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Lakers won the game 116-111 to take the NBA title 4-2 in the best-of-seven series.
It was the first of five championships for Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant poses for a photo with his father, former NBA player Joe Bryant, in Los Angeles in November 2000.
Kobe Bryant, Lindsey Hunter, and Shaquille O'Neal celebrate after Game Four of the NBA Finals against the New Jersey Nets in 2002.
The Los Angeles Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal, top, carries his series MVP trophy while teammate Kobe Bryant carries the NBA Championship trophy as they arrive at Los Angeles International Airport on June 13, 2002. The Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets 4-0 to take their third consecutive NBA Championship.
Kobe Bryant celebrates with his then girlfriend and future wife Vanessa Laine in the locker room after winning the NBA Finals against the Indiana Pacers on June 19, 2000.
Kobe Bryant passes behind his back to Shaquille O'Neal as he drives to the basket against the Philadelphia 76ers during game 2 of the 2001 NBA Finals at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The Lakers became back-to-back champions after triumphing against the 76ers in the 2001 finals.
Kobe Bryant holds hands with his wife Vanessa as he admits to adultery at a news conference in Los Angeles on July 18, 2003.
In 2003, a 19-year-old woman accused a then-24-year-old Bryant of raping her at a hotel in Colorado. Bryant has always maintained that he engaged in a consensual sexual encounter with the woman, who was an employee of the hotel. Criminal charges against Bryant were dropped a year later when the alleged victim refused to testify, and a civil suit against Bryant ended with a settlement out of court and a public apology, but no admission of guilt from the Los Angeles Lakers star.
Kobe Bryant talks with Michael Jordan during the 2003 NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta.
Kobe Bryant drives against LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 19, 2009 in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant points to a player behind him after making a basket in the closing seconds against the Orlando Magic in Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals on June 7, 2009, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 101-96.
Kobe Bryant holds the Larry O'Brien championship trophy and finals MVP trophy after the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game 5 of the NBA basketball finals on June 14, 2009, in Orlando, Florida.
It was Kobe's fourth NBA championship.
Kobe Bryant waves to fans during a parade to celebrate their victory in the 2009 finals outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 17, 2009.
Kobe Bryant reacts during the Lakers' loss to the Sacramento Kings in Los Angeles on Jan. 28, 2011.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, puts up a shot as Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley defends on Feb. 29, 2012, in Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant walks off the court after their 106-90 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of their NBA basketball Western Conference semifinal playoff series on May 21, 2012, in Oklahoma City. The Thunder won the series 4-1.
First lady Michelle Obama talks with Kobe Bryant after a game between the United States and France at the London Olympic Games on July 29, 2012.
Kobe Bryant reacts with U.S. teammate Kevin Durant after Bryant made a three-pointer against Australia during the quarterfinal game on at the Olympic Games in London on Aug. 8, 2012.
Kobe Bryant grimaces after being injured during a game against the Golden State Warriors on April 12, 2013, in Los Angeles. Bryant missed many games in his last few seasons because of his injuries.
Kobe Bryant talks to the media during a press conference prior to a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Feb. 10, 2016 in Cleveland.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant waves to the crowd as he walks on the court before a game against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center. In the final game of his storied career, Kobe Bryant scored 60 points.
Kobe Bryant poses with his family as both of his Los Angeles Lakers numbers, 8 and 24, are retired at the Staples Center on Dec. 18, 2017.