As the world mourns the tragic passing of basketball legend Kobe Bryant along with his daughter and seven others, the Lower Merion area has joined together to honor one of its own. Bryant’s life was spent around the world; he grew up watching his father play basketball in Italy, he spent his legendary NBA career with the Lakers, and spent his last years jet-setting around the country in pursuit of successful business ventures. What many do not realize, however, is what Bryant meant to the Lower Merion area.
For the many years that Bryant spent in LA, he was just as much at home in the Philadelphia area as he was in in LA. As the Eagles and fans across the city celebrated their victory in Super Bowl LII, Bryant was right along side fans, overjoyed in his hometown team’s victory. He was a regular at Larry’s Cheesesteak shop, a staple for the area. The shop honored Bryant in his passing, offering “The Kobe Cheesesteak,” modeled after Bryant’s usual order. Bryant’s high school, Lower Merion, was most affected by the star’s passing.
Bryant’s NBA career began straight from his days at Lower Merion, as the star elected to skip college and head straight for the NBA draft. Lower Merion students and players were overjoyed to watch one of their own head off to the NBA. Former teammates of his remembered his dedication to the game; as a junior, Bryant took responsibility for his team’s failure to make the state championship. The next year, he not only got them there, but the night before he called every one of his former teammates to tell them that he would win the game for them. Kobe delivered on this promise and gave teammates and students something to be proud of.
Today, three days after his tragic passing, residents and former students are still gathering outside of Bryant Gymnasium to mourn the loss of one of their own. Bryant will forever be remembered in the hearts of Philadelphians.