For all his style and bravado on the court, Kobe Bryant was relatively humble off it. He was a regular guy and often shied away from the spotlight.
There are a million stories about fans running into him at the local gym or grocery store or favorite restaurant and he never made a fuss. In fact, Bryant would smile and chat with the mortals who considered him a god.
The most famous was that now-viral video showing him playing the Good Samaritan role following a car crash in Los Angeles on Dec. 13, 2019. It was the same kind of unconditional love and kindness the NBA superstar had displayed during a similar traffic accident in 2018.
One of the victims from the 2018 car crash recently reflected on what Bryant’s actions meant to him.
“Kobe witnessed someone crash into me at 65 mph,” Ryan Williams wrote on Twitter. “He ran to my car. He helped. Most of all, he was kind. A week later, he saw me and my family at Starbucks. He told my wife how lucky I was to be alive.”
Lower Merion Statue Would Make Kobe Feel Like ‘Dork’
In 2006, Kobe Bryant gave an in-depth interview with this reporter for his hometown paper in Ardmore, PA. In it, the then-27-year-old rising star for the Lakers seemed embarrassed that anyone would want to build a statue dedicated to him.
One of his peers — Vince Carter — had just had his likeness erected at his high school alma mater so it seemed plausible. When asked directly if he would welcome a statue on Lower Merion High School’s campus, Bryant laughed out loud.
“I’d feel like a dork — are you serious?,” Bryant told Main Line Life in 2006. “When I was in high school, it was about having fun, it was never about Kobe Bryant the basketball player, so when I come home that’s the way it should be. That’s very important for me, it means a lot to me.”
Bryant, who had just become the youngest player in NBA history to score 15,000 points, went on to talk about how he needed to keep a low profile to avoid the tabloids in Hollywood. The son of Joe “Jellybean” Bryant was just a fun-loving kid from Philly.
“As I became this ‘celebrity,’ I had to become more quiet and keep to myself, but that’s not me,” Bryant told Main Line Life. “People think they know who I am from what some guy writes in the newspaper, but back home they know the real me and what I’m all about.”
Bryant’s Staples Center Statue Planned for 2021
Speaking of statues, Kobe Bryant’s bronze bust outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles might have to be fast-tracked. In February 2018, Lakers president and CEO Jeanie Buss told ESPN L.A. Radio that Bryant’s statue would likely be completed in 2021.
Why the long wait? Well, NBA players cannot qualify for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame until five years after their retirement date and the Lakers star was just coming up on that milestone. He hung up his high tops in 2016 and the statue usually gets cast after induction.
For example, Shaquille O’Neal was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2016 and his statue was unveiled in 2017. Buss provided an estimated timeline on when to expect Bryant’s likeness.
“So what we did with Shaq, when he went into the Basketball Hall of Fame, that’s when we unveiled his statue,” Buss told ESPN L.A. Radio, via Lakers Nation. “So I guess we can assume that at some point Kobe will be considered for the Basketball Hall of Fame, and we’ll figure it out.”
Considering Bryant’s untimely death, that timeline is sure to be moved up. A spokesperson for the Basketball Hall of Fame has already confirmed that Bryant will be inducted as part of the Class of 2020 on Aug. 29.