He kicked off his basketball career in Italy where he grew up, before making a name for himself with LA Lakers. Currently, he is the second highest-paid NBA player behind Kevin Garnett, with LeBron Jones appearing to catch up quickly.
It was from basketball Bryant made a fortune, and is said to have made a staggering $680 million from endorsements with top companies including Nike, Lenovo and Hublot. And on the court, he kept it classy and professional – smashing records and setting new ones to earn an enviable place in basketball.
He still holds the record of Most Valuable Player awards won, a special recognition for the best performing player in the regular season. Apart from winning five NBA championships through his career, Bryant also guided United States to two Olympic gold medals, helping the country top the podium in 2008 and 2012.
Socially, Bryant was a family man – having married his wife, Vanessa, back in 1999. The couple had four daughters together, including Natalia Diamante, Bianka Bella and Capri Kobe who is only seven months old.
Bryant ended his illustrious career spanning to 20 years after the 2015-16 season following season-ending injuries suffered on his knees and shoulder.
Meanwhile, his death prompted outpouring tributes from around the world, with US president Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, among those who took to social media to mourn him.
“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act,” Obama posted on Twitter. “To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day,” he added.