The world is mourning an NBA legend. Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant died in the morning hours of Jan. 26, 2020, after his private helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, Calif., according to TMZ. Bryant was 41. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also on board the helicopter. TMZ reported that Bryant and his daughter were on their way to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif. At the time of this writing, the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 after an incredible, 20-year career. Over the years, he won over the hearts of millions with his extraordinary talent and undeniable passion for his sport. Fans of the all-time great took to Twitter following the news of the tragedy to reflect on the NBA star’s impact. Messages like this one flooded social media: « Growing up Kobe Bryant was a huge inspiration to me. Made me part of who I am today in my competitive spirit and drive to be the best I can be at what I decide my craft is… I never got to meet the man but someday I will. RIP @kobebryant and to your family my condolences. »
In addition to making fans out of millions over the course of his career, Bryant also made millions of dollars. Here’s how much the NBA star was worth when he died.
His extraordinary talent made Kobe Bryant millions
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Kobe Bryant was worth $600 million at the time of his death. It should come as a surprise that one of the greatest basketball players of all time was sitting on millions upon millions of dollars. In fact, from his time in the NBA alone, Bryant reportedly racked up $323 million. Celebrity Net Worth said his « career earnings are the second-most earned by anyone in the NBA. »
In addition to the pretty penny Bryant made from playing ball, the NBA legend also padded his pockets with profits from various endorsement deals. According to Bleacher Report, Bryant signed a $10 million deal with McDonald’s in 2001, and in 2003, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bryant had signed a four-year, $40 million deal with Nike, which he landed after « [spending] a reported $8 million to buy out his former shoe contract with Adidas-Salomon AG of Germany. » Yes, you read that right. Bryant was so wealthy back in the early 2000’s, he had the scratch to toss away $8 million to chase a $40 million deal. And McDonalds and Nike are just two of Bryant’s countless partnerships. In endorsement deals alone, Celebrity Net Worth estimates Bryant brought in about $350 million. The outlet notes that the only athletes who topped the late great in terms of secondary income are golfer Tiger Woods, Formula One driver Michael Schumacher, and boxer Floyd Mayweather.
Even though the amount of money that Bryant amassed over his lifetime is truly incredible, how he used that money is even more impressive.
Kobe Bryant used his millions for good
While Kobe Bryant certainly enjoyed the lifestyle of an NBA star worth millions of dollars (complete with multi-million dollar homes,) Bryant was definitely a fan of spreading the wealth. Over the years, the Lakers legend undoubtedly made a difference both on and off the court thanks, in part, to his philanthropic efforts.
In 2011, Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, launched the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, an initiative aimed at eliminating youth homelessness in Los Angeles (via HuffPost). Since its inception, KVBFF has donated millions to various programs and organizations. In 2014, the foundation donated $20,000 to Kids in Sports Los Angeles « to provide sports opportunities to vulnerable youth, » according to the foundation’s website.
Through the foundation, Bryant became a founding donor for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture after donating between $1 million to $2 million. The legendary baller was clearly proud to be a part of something bigger than himself. In 2016, ahead of the museum’s opening, Bryant tweeted: « Go. See. This. Museum. There is no greater testament to this country than the stories in this building. »
It’s clear that the foundation allowed Bryant to support initiatives and organizations that meant a lot to him, and if the months leading up to his death are any indication, he surely would have continued to do so throughout his « meaningful second act. »
Kobe Bryant supported causes close to his heart until the end
About a month before the tragic helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and eight others, the Roseville High School Basketball team in Roseville, Calif. received a $5,000 donation from the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, via Sacramento’s ABC10 News. The donation provided the girl’s basketball team with the necessary funds to make its way to the San Francisco Bay area for a tournament.
According to the news outlet, the team’s 14-year-old point guard, Lane Madrid, was the one who reached out to Bryant for help on behalf of her team. Seeing as how Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was an aspiring basketball star herself, it’s no surprise that the NBA legend was more than happy to lend a helping hand — and that meant the world to Madrid. « Kobe Bryant wasn’t just an athlete. He was a… kind-hearted person, » the grateful teen said. « He didn’t only change the world of basketball for women, but he touched the lives of many people. Not only mine but others. »
All that to say, Kobe Bryant’s impact on the game of basketball and the world is invaluable. His legacy will undoubtedly live on in the hearts of millions — and that’s worth way more than any amount of money sitting in the bank.