The ‘Jellybean’ story and why Kobe Bryant grew up in Italy

Every hero has his past, and Kobe Bryant’s was in Italy. The shooter, one of the best players of all time, spent part of his childhood in the transalpine country and came to the NBA some time later showing big differences with his generational peers. It was very notable that Kobe, the son of a former player in the best league in the world, had spent the first years of his life almost in cotton wool. Unlike some of his contemporaries, who had grown up in a country where slums were a tradition and racial inequality a constant torture, Kobe had arrived unaware of it all, brought up in European culture and with more varied concerns than other young players.but it came down to achieving the goals he set for himself when he was 12 or 13: to be the best player in basketball history.

Kobe came to the NBA with deep knowledge of a continent people love Allen Iversonwho came in the same draft as the shooter, in 1996. Additionally, the cheeky young man who despised everyone and that he was not as interested as his companions in the world of the night, he was fluent in Italian and also managed to speak a little Spanish, which Pau Gasol will verify later. Joe Bryant, his father, had passed through Sixers, Clippers and Rockets during his career, but his good-natured character did not correspond to the context in which the League evolved. and emigrated to Italy in 1984 to play for Reiti, a team that shared a name with a city that Kobe, born in Philadelphia six years earlier, was a precursor. It was there that he learned to play basketball, watching the games of his father, who also played for Viola Reggio Calabria, Maltinti Pistoia and Pallacanestro Reggiana, before retiring in 1991.

dragee (nickname of Kobe’s father) enrolled his son in primary school as soon as he arrived, refusing to take him to an American, his initial idea. He also did it with Sharia and Shaya, the future star’s older sisters.. They all settled into the culture of Rieti, a city that Kobe has come to call home. It was there that he started playing basketball, either on the patio of his house or at school, and playing games in which he quickly stood out from the crowd. His experiences in the transalpine country were even for a famous book, the one written by Andrea Barocci (“An Italian named Kobe“), in which many details of the player’s childhood and also of his father are toldan ever-smiling man who fled to Europe after failing to fit into an NBA that was too competitive for his liking.

Kobe returned to the United States in 1991 and arrived at Lower Merion Hign School in his hometown of Philadelphia, where he won the title in 1996, months before making the jump to the NBA. There, the incredible inner world and deep introspection that a player exhibits that at only 18 he behaved like a veteran and, already as a teenager, he showed where he was going to arrive. Yet, yes, he had some contact with Italy, when his father asked him to buy a small part of Olimpia Milano and appoint him as his manager there, which Kobe did. This affair did not go down well and, coupled with the rejection that her own father and mother, Pamthey had from his marriage to Vanessa, Kobe distanced himself from his family and only reconnected with them as the years passed when he had already become the Black Mamba, changed from 8 to 24 and experienced a slow descent into hell that ended in eternally delayed redemption… and five rings.

Kobe has never denied his Italian past or all that Europe has given him. Fan of AC Milan and FC Barcelona, ​​as well as Frank Rijkaard and Ronaldinho, the shooter was seen conversing with Pau in Spanish and Italian (during matches, be careful) with Sasha Vujacicborn in Slovenia but Pallalcesto Amatori Udine from 2001 to 2004, and member of the Lakers during the rings of 2009 and 2010. His closeness to Spain and the European continent was seen during the London Olympics (he had previously won the gold in Beijing) and his figure has been universally known, partly thanks to the interest still shown by the other side of the Atlantic, his good predisposition to frequent the foreign media and, of course, his friendship with Pau Gasol. And this whole story, of course, started in Italy. Specifically in Rieti. The rest we already know.

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