Kobe Bryant was one of the highest skilled players in the entire NBA. But he was also one of the wealthiest.
Kobe Bryant’s net worth was estimated at $600 million. He procured a total of $680 million from his NBA earnings and product endorsements. Bryant also ranked 3rd in America’s Richest Entrepreneurs Under 40 in 2016.
Who is Kobe Bryant? What was his professional basketball career like? Find out the answers to these questions as you continue reading the rest of this article.
Only after one year of staying in the NBA, Kobe Bryant hit the $1 million salary mark. But it wasn’t until three years of playing for the league that Bryant landed his first major contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. It was in the summer of 1999 when Bryant became an official member of the Lakers.
In the next few years after signing the deal, Bryant earned up to $10 million per season. Furthermore, his salary would only see raises instead of downfalls throughout his career.
By the end of his 20-year NBA career, the Lakers paid Bryant with a cool $30.4 million for one season. It was during the 2013 to 2014 season, which was two years before Bryant would call it quits from the NBA in 2016.
Throughout his career, Bryant earned over $320 million in the NBA while playing for and with the Lakers. But his NBA earnings were only a single building block for his entire $600 million net worth.
Kobe Bryant’s Endorsement Deals
Being one of the most popular players in the NBA, it’s no surprise that Bryant caught the attention of many businesses during his time. Brands would line up to shake the hand of this shooting guard (which can sometimes be a small forward), hoping to strike deals.
As per a Fortune article, here are some of the brands that struck endorsement deals with Bryant:
Even after he retired, Bryant was still the face of many advertisements from different brands and companies. He continued to play a vital role in endorsing brands like Lenovo and Turkish Airlines.
But Bryant’s biggest endorsement payload came from sports brand Nike. To this day, Nike is selling Bryant’s personal shoe line with his family earning about $20 million from this brand alone.
Although most of Bryant’s fortune was going up, it wasn’t always this way. In 2003, sexual assault charges were filed against Bryant, bringing significant adverse effects to the NBA celebrity’s marketability.
For instance, Ferrero and McDonald’s decided to cancel their contracts with Bryant because of these legal issues. Bryant was still able to prove his innocence in court. However, some brands believe that his market value could never recover from the debacle that transpired.
Kobe Bryant’s Investments
Kobe Bryant wasn’t only smart while playing his favorite sport, but he was also financially intelligent. Throughout his NBA career, Bryant would make different investments outside of basketball.
One of Bryant’s most notable investments was a 10% BodyArmour stake in March 2014. Procuring the asset pierced the NBA superstar’s pockets with a $6 million knife. However, the return on investment from that purchase was far greater than the original costs. BodyArmour returned that investment to Bryant with a whopping $400 million in 2018.
At that time, the Coca-Cola Corporation bought a BodyArmour stake with the same value as the company, which was at $2 billion during that transaction. This purchase meant Kobe’s 10% stake acquisition was already worth $200 million before taxes.
Who is Kobe Bryant?
Born on August 23, 1978, this Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, born basketball legend was the son of former Philadelphia 76ers Joe Bryant. Bryant’s parents named him after the famous Japanese beef called Kobe. Many people, including basketball fans, would soon call him the ‘Black Mamba.’
Kobe Bryant’s Early Life
Joe Bryant retired from the NBA when his son turned six. The family moved to Italy and Joe Bryant would continue playing professional basketball. But this time it would be for the European league. While Kobe Bryant was still in Italy, he learned how to speak the country’s native tongue.
As a pre-teen, Bryant (the son) would return to the USA, participating in basketball summer events. The family moved back to Philadelphia after Bryant (the father) retired from the European league. Upon achieving a permanent residence in the US, Kobe Bryant entered the Lower Merion High School to continue his schooling.
While in high school, Bryant continued his passion for basketball and excelled in the sport. He even led his school’s team to its first state championship of which that particular educational institution wasn’t able to achieve in 53 years.
The media was quick to hear about this achievement. Soon, Bryant became the face of Gatorade as the brand’s Men’s National Basketball Player of the Year. USA Today also awarded Bryant with the All USA first team player recognition.
Bryant was also a hard worker, seeing that he needed to keep his grades up if he wanted to participate in his school’s basketball events. Thankfully, his SAT score was sufficiently high that it even allowed him to become a candidate of different colleges. Some higher learning institutions would even grant Bryant scholarships.
However, Bryant had other things in mind as he went straight to being a professional basketball player instead of going through college. In turn, Bryant’s decision allowed him to acquire the title of the youngest player drafted into the NBA.
Kobe Bryant’s Basketball Career
At first, the Charlotte Hornets had their eyes on Bryant. But it was the Lakers that already pre-arranged the deal for Bryant to be with this Los Angeles team. However, since Bryant was only 17 at that time and underage, he had to sign his first NBA contract with his parents’ consent.
It was 1996 when Bryant signed this agreement and debuted in the Summer Pro League of the same year. In his first game, Bryant scored 25 points. His performance was nothing short of magnificent as he whizzed in and out of defenders to gain points.
In the final game of the Long Beach, California, Summer Pro League, Bryant scored 36 points with an average of 5.3 rebounds in four matches. At that time, Bryant also achieved other titles, such as the youngest player to play in an NBA game and the youngest NBA starter.
At first, Bryant’s team had to restrict his playing time to minutes. However, the minutes lengthened as the season continued. At the end of the 1996 to 1997 season, Bryant was able to average 15.5 minutes per game.
In 1997, Bryant also won the Slam Dunk Contest, making him the youngest champion of that activity. His overall performance throughout the season, including the Slam Dunk Contest, earned him a place on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. It was here when he was able to bump fists with Travis Knight, a 7-foot center that played for the Lakers at that time.
As the second season of Bryant’s professional basketball career came into view, he now had more playing time than before. In turn, he was able to score even more points than before as he would average between 7.6 to 15.4 points per game.
By the start of the 1998 to 1999 season, Bryant signed a six-year extension to his contract. This new agreement allowed the athlete to garner $70 million throughout that period.
Bryant’s prosperity continued with the Lakers as legendary coach Phil Jackson took over the role of coach for the team. The Bryant-Jackson team-up enabled the NBA player to enhance his skills even further. During Jackson’s time as the Lakers’ coach, Bryant earned multiple appearances in celebrity teams, including the All-Defensive, All-NBA, and All-Star teams.
Jackson was able to bring out the best in his players. But the Lakers coach was seen to use the skills of Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant to execute the triangle offense maneuver. This move required a specific setup, wherein the point guard passes to the shooting guard near the edge of the three-point line. The shooting guard would then cut to his strong side to attempt a score.
The triangle offense technique allowed both players to help the team join the NBA’s elite class. It was quite an effective maneuver since the Lakers won three seasons consecutively from 2000 to 2002.
Still, it doesn’t mean that Bryant’s career was peak perfection. At the start of the 1999 to 2000 season, Bryant needed to rest his arm for six weeks because of a hand injury. The incident occurred during a pre-season game with the Washington Wizards.
However, things returned to normal for the team when Bryant resumed play. At this point, Bryant was able to play an average of 38 minutes per game. Therefore, his statistics as a professional NBA player grew significantly.
The O’Neal and Bryant duo was even seen to be a near-unstoppable force. This pairing, along with a strong roster of players, allowed the Lakers to win 67 games. However, Bryant wasn’t able to snatch the MVP award during the 1999 to 2000 season as O’Neal acquired the title.
Kobe Bryant’s Final Season
As time moved on and many games played, Kobe Bryant eventually arrived at his final season for his professional basketball career. His final season was during the 2015 to 2016 playoffs.
Unfortunately, Bryant didn’t start the season on a good note. He suffered a calf injury and missed the last two weeks of the exhibition games. Nonetheless, he was able to recover enough to play in the season-opening match.
Bryant’s final season also didn’t end as he intended. In November 2015, the Golden State Warriors took the Los Angeles Lakers’ chance at victory with a score of 111-77. Further, Bryant only scored four points during 25 minutes. It was also the worst shooting experience of his entire NBA career.
His last game would be with the 76ers, his hometown’s team. Again, the Lakers lost with a final score of 103-91 in favor of the 76ers.
How did Kobe Bryant Die?
At the reasonably young age of 41, Kobe Bryant passed away because of a freak helicopter accident in January 2020. He was with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna at that time, along with six family friends and the pilot of the aircraft.
It was particularly a foggy morning when the helicopter boarded by Bryant and others left the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. As per a report from TMZ, the air control tower of the Burbank Airport notified the helicopter pilot that the craft was flying too low.
The helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas, California. It would lead to a series of unfortunate events as the aircraft started burning midair. The crash didn’t have any survivors.
Kobe Bryant has a $600 million net worth because of his outstanding smarts in the financial sector. Not only did he thought on his feet while playing professional basketball games, he knew how to take care of his finances. As such, Bryant was able to land numerous investments and endorsement deals to help support his financial well-being. Unfortunately, his life came to an end due to a freak helicopter accident in January 2020.