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The world was stunned Sunday (Jan. 26) when news broke that NBA MVP Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. All the passengers aboard the aircraft perished too, one of whom was his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant.
Kobe’s death stings particularly because he’s touched fans even beyond the sports world. Do you remember his rap career? What about that time he guest starred on 90s hit series “Moesha”? Did you know he won an Emmy and an Academy Award after retirement?
As REVOLT remembers the legacy of an Olympian, philanthropist, rapper, actor, author, Academy Award winning-filmmaker, husband, and father, we reflect on 11 moments Kobe Bryant transcended sports.
1. Kobe Bryant’s Dear Basketball won an Oscar and an Emmy (2018)
Following his retirement from the NBA, Kobe began to tell stories for children. In 2017, he wrote and narrated an animated short film called Dear Basketball based on his retirement announcement letter.
The following year, the six-minute featurette won two of the highest honors in TV and film, the 2018 Emmy for Outstanding Post-Produced Graphic Design and a 2018 Oscar for Best Short Film.
In March 2019, Kobe also published “The Wizenard Series” about five young basketball players, a sage coach and the transformative power of the game. Kobe creatively weaved in insights about mental stamina, emotional clarity and what’s required for peak performance in the episodic book series.
2. Kobe Bryant lent his voice to social justice with PSA (2017)
Kobe Bryant used social media to fight for equality and justice. In a Facebook post published on August 28, 2019, he and several other celebrities like LL Cool J, Shemar Moore and Gayle King posted a public service announcement from the Southern Poverty Law Center encouraging others to end bigotry and hate.
This was not his first time speaking on social issues, as he encouraged teammates to wear “I Can’t Breathe” shirts following the police killing of Eric Garner. He also facilitated a summit between Black Lives Matters members and the LAPD to discuss police brutality.
3. Kobe Bryant made his acting debut on “Moesha” (1996)
Kobe went straight to the NBA from high school, but not before taking R&B superstar Brandy Norwood to his senior prom. The two met on the set of her hit show “Moesha” where he made a guest appearance as Terry Hightower, Crenshaw High’s star basketball player who asked Moesha for help on the SAT. The episode was called “The Whistle Blower” and aired September 24, 1996.
4. Kobe Bryant made a cameo on “Sister, Sister” (1996)
Kobe racked up more TV credits, this time, as himself on an episode of “Sister, Sister.” When the twins’ high school rival tried to steal their friends by throwing a crazy party where NBA star Kobe Bryant was in attendance, they kidnapped House Party star Christopher “Kid” Reid to have their own star-studded affair. The episode, “Kid-Napped,” aired October 9, 1996.
5. Kobe Bryant helped teens on “Hang Time” (1997)
Kobe made another TV appearance on high school basketball comedy “Hang Time.” The show followed the lives of seven teenagers on the Deering High School Basketball team.
In the October 18, 1997 episode, “The Hustlers,” Kobe appeared as himself to help out Julie (Daniella Deutscher) and Teddy (Anthony Anderson) who were targeted by professional basketball hustlers. NBA guard Reggie Theus was also in the episode.
6. When Kobe Bryant was shirtless on “All That” (1998)
In 1998, “All That” had preteen girls around the country squealing at the TV when Kobe Bryant was a guest on tween talk show “Whateverrr” co-starring actresses Amanda Bynes and Christy Knowings.
The two asked all the questions every 10-year-old wanted to know. Was he married? Was he dating? How would he look without his shirt? Best of all, when he tried to leave the set of the fake talk show, the hosts caged the NBA baller.
7. Kobe Bryant had a classic TV rap battle
“Kobe. Bryant. The slam dunk giant.” Kobe began to venture into rap and got in his first bar (singular) in 1998’s Sprite commercial featuring Tim Duncan and Missy Elliott.
The “Obey Your Thirst” rap battle commercial aired during the 1998 McDonald’s All-American Slam Dunk Competition on ESPN. The five-time Lakers champion later went on to sign with Sony Records in 1999. His debut single “K.O.B.E.” featured supermodel Tyra Banks.
8. Kobe Bryant was featured on Brian McKnight’s “Hold Me Tight (Remix)”
Kobe Bryant appeared on Brian McKnight’s “Hold Me,” a track from the singer’s third studio album, Anytime.
The 1998 up-tempo R&B track produced by Trackmasters also featured rapper Tone. The two bookend the song with Brian’s silk smooth vocals as the main course. Kobe showed his sensitive side, rapping and macking to the ladies in his seductive verse.
9. Kobe Bryant was featured on Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name (Remix)”
Things got real for Kobe the rapper when he hopped on the remix to Destiny’s Child “Say My Name” in 1999. Over the following two years, the single would go on to win two Grammy awards, an NAACP Image award and the MTV VMA for Best R&B Video.
10. Kobe schooled Beyonce’s dad in one-on-one game on the “Bug a Boo” music video set
Throwback to that one time Kobe took it to the hole on Beyonce’s father, Matthew Knowles. He really didn’t want these problems, but the girls were surely entertained, as Beyoncé can be heard cheering on her daddy.
11. Kobe Bryant’s commercial with KRS-One and LeBron James
In 2009, Nike called in the talents of LeBron James and Kobe for a series of holiday commercials featuring rapping puppets. There were three installments. One featuring KRS One, one with Lupe Fiasco, and one where the puppets showcase a fancy handshake at the barbershop.
There will never be another Kobe Bean Bryant to dominate so many disciplines effortless. Rest in power, Mamba.