Kobe Bryant's been making a quicker than usual recovery from his torn Achilles, but that's not the only the reason the Mamba has for celebration. As the 2013-14 NBA season draws closer, Kobe Bryant celebrates his 35th birthday today.
On August 23, 1978, Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to former 76ers player Joe "Jellybean" Bryant. From an early age, Kobe took a liking to not only basketball, but picked up the game of soccer as well during his family's stay in Italy. In 1991, Kobe's family moved back to the United States and eventually, hoops took over.
Kobe quickly became a sensation at Philadelphia's Lower Merion High School. In freshman year, he made the school's varsity team, and by his senior year, he won the Naismith High School Player of the Year award among other accolades. At the age of 17, Bryant chose to skip college and go directly to the NBA. During the 1996 NBA Draft, he was selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets and was quickly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a prearranged deal.
By the time he hit the pros, there was no looking back. Kobe quickly made a name for himself, winning an NBA Championship in 2000 and racking up another four throughout his career. He's also been a two-time NBA Finals MVP, 15-time NBA All-Star, and two-time NBA scoring champion. The fact of the matter is, Kobe could retire today and he'd be one of the most prolific and successful players of all time.
Equally prolific to Kobe's NBA tenure is his signature sneaker line with Nike. Originally sponsored by adidas, Kobe signed with Nike in 2003. Early on, he wore a number of player exclusive Air Jordan signature models, and also favored the Huarache basketball range. In 2006, Nike introduced the Zoom Kobe I, which set the stage for the Black Mamba's innovative signature line, currently in its 8th phase. Look out for the Nike Kobe 9 later this year.