Between 6 and 13 years old, Kobe Bryant lived with his father, Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant, in Italy. Having spent much of his childhood in the countryside, Bryant was fluent in Italian. The elder Bryant decided to bring the family back to Philadelphia, Pa., Where the younger Bryant would end up playing high school basketball.
However, adjusting to life in the United States has not been easy.
Kobe Bryant was shy and reserved in high school
ABC has chronicled the life of Kobe Bryant through his Super star documentary series. The documentary featured comments from several people in sports and the media who have followed the Black Mamba throughout his career.
Super star also gave viewers an in-depth look at Kobe’s education in Italy and his high school career. Playing in Italy, Bryant sometimes felt like an outsider. His father felt it was time to return to the United States, where his son would eventually hone his skills and improve as a basketball player.
He attended Lower Merion High School in the suburb just outside of Philadelphia. Of course, he didn’t really know any of his classmates. “It was a lot to adjust,” Bryant said in an interview clip from the documentary. “I didn’t really know anyone. I was very shy, very reserved.
It’s safe to say Bryant was out of his element. He was just a little fish in a big pond.
Bryant had trouble understanding the language
One of the biggest hurdles Bryant faced early in his high school experience was the language barrier. Italian was his main language, so more adjustments were needed to be successful in everyday life.
He said he struggled to understand English, as well as the slang that was used by high school students during the period.
Everyone spoke slang and I couldn’t understand a word. Someone would say, ‘Stop making me sweat’ and I don’t know what they’re talking about.
Bryant also mentioned that he has a hard time making friends due to the disconnection. He was never invited to parties or other social gatherings, so he practically stayed away when he was not at school. Instead, he would take his basketball to the gym and dribble all weekend.
Basketball ultimately turned out to be the gateway for him to finally make friends at school. Bryant would go to the gym and play basketball with his classmates during lunch and after school.
“Basketball is a universal language, so I was able to communicate that way,” he said with a smile on his face.
Kobe Bryant transformed Lower Merion’s basketball program
Prior to Bryant’s arrival, the Lower Merion basketball team was practically an afterthought on the state’s hoops scene. Her advanced skills and maturity on the pitch gave the team the boost they desperately needed.
He was able to have an immediate impact on the court. Behind Bryant’s leadership, Lower Merion won the league championship, breaking a 17-year drought.
At 16, he had already started making comparisons with Michael Jordan. He would go on to break Southeastern Pennsylvania’s all-time goalscoring record, cementing himself as a legend in the Philadelphia area.
Kobe Bryant’s career and legacy speak for themselves, and with him they began to overcome adversity in high school.
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