How growing up in Italy for 7 years turned Kobe Bryant into a star

Jan 09, 2022 911

BY: Gavin Newsham

In 1984, when Kobe Bryant was 6, his father, Joe, uprooted him and his family to Italy to eke out a few more paychecks after an eight-year NBA career. A 6-foot-9 forward, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant had played for the Philadelphia 76ers, the San Diego Clippers and the Houston Rockets, and had now accepted an offer to play for Sebastani Rieti, based in the hilltop town of Rieti, around 50 miles from Rome.

The club found him a cottage with a garden and gave him a new BMW, too. They even erected a basketball hoop on the outside wall for young Kobe to use. The change still came as a shock to young Kobe, who left his home in Houston, Texas, along with his mother, Pam, and his older sisters, Sharia and Shaya. “I knew it was going to be different, that the culture was different,” he later recalled. 

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