The Los Angeles Lakers icon won five NBA championships with the Lakers and had both his No. 8 and 24 retired by the purple and gold.
Bryant tragically died in a helicopter accident in January and the world mourns.
Many are also telling awesome Bryant stories.
Insert Hoop Magazine columnist, Anthony Gilbert.
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10-games left. It's difficult to embrace the end of your career. You have inspired a generation, and given me countless interviews. One day I will tell the little ones how I was booed for supporting you in Philadelphia throughout the '02 All-Star game…and how I witnessed in awe as you dropped 61-points at @madisonsquaregarden. Thank you for helping me define my career as a writer through your game. Sincerely, Anthony
The Philadelphia, PA native has covered Bryant since his days at Lower Merion and shared his first encounter with Bryant. “I know you’ve been watching the Last Dance,” Gilbert told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“And every time someone even blinks at Michael Jordan he’s like, “Yup, I’m remembering that. Like, wait ‘til we get on the court.” Kobe was competitive in a very similar way like all the top athletes are.”
Gilbert then shares how Bryant’s sister, Sharia introduced the two; but not in the way one may think. “I remember his sister played volleyball at Temple University and she was IT,” said Gilbert.
“She was in Sports Illustrated, the captain of the team, she had me tell this story to her daughters…Shariya Bryant was the first star of the children; obviously Kobe eclipsed everyone, but she was it. I would go the games and then I actually got hired to work the Women’s Volleyball Team, that’s how I got situated in collegiate sports working with that team first and you know, I’m feeling myself. I’m like, ‘Shariya what’s up? When we goin’ out?’she was like, “Little boy, we ain’t goin’ nowhere!”
It was there that Sharia offered Gilbert a challenge: She told him that he couldn’t even beat her little brother in a game of one-on-one.
Little did he know that her little brother was a young Black Mamba. “I’m like, ‘Little brother? Go get your little brother!’ and she did,” recounted Gilbert.
“He came to the next game and he was HOT! And I was like, ‘Whoa whoa, wait a minute…’ now mind you, I’m like 5’8” at the time, thank God I grew and he was already like 6’3”- 6’4”, and he was like, ‘When are we gonna get this game dog? I heard you’ve been talking trash.’ I was like: ‘What? I didn’t sign up for this!’”
Gilbert said their friendship blossomed from there.
“That’s how we started our journey man and that guy has been so instrumental to my success that I enjoyed and he was giving me interviews. He’s just always been a true genuine person. I’m just going to say friend aside, because you know, you’re a writer and you have to take the friend hat off. But it was always respect and always love and it’s just interesting man. It’s crazy that he’s gone.”