Kobe Bryant's high school jersey is coming home. A Chinese man has returned the signed number 33 jersey to Lower Merion High School in in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
In 2017, a thief broke into the high school's display case and stole the autographed jersey that was worn by Bryant, as well as Lower Merion's 1996 PIAA Boys' Basketball 4A State Championship trophy and Kobe's Parade All-American plaque. This led to a two year quest that ended on Wednesday with a man in Harbin, China.
According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, 28-year-old superfan, Liu Zhe, was looking to add to his Black Mamba shrine when he dropped close to $2,000 for the collector's item. But after acquiring the piece, Zhe realized that the framed jersey seemed a little too authentic. After doing some research, he discovered that his new purchase was actually the jersey stolen from Lower Merion High School.
Zhe planned to return the jersey to Bryant in person when Kobe makes the trip to China to announce the draw for the FIBA World Cup later this year. But after connecting with Lower Merion on Instagram, Zhe decided to mail the jersey back to the school free of charge. In fact, because Zhe has met Bryant on multiple occasions, the only thing he wanted was for him to know that the jersey was returned.
"We'd love to know what happened to the other items too but just the fact that someone, when they realized what they had, was willing to send it back and do the right thing was a very welcome turn of events," the team's assistant coach, Doug Young said. "We're very excited to have the jersey back in its appropriate place."