If you watched Kobe Bryant snarl and score and play basketball at a ferociously intense, high level, you probably won’t forget it anytime soon.

Even for those who never met Bryant, his name evokes strong emotions and memories. 

Approximately a year after the death of nine people in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, including Bryant and his daughter Gianna, some of those who knew Bryant well shared tales about his life for NBC Sports’ “Sports Uncovered: My favorite Kobe story.” They provided new perspectives on Bryant's 41 years and what he was like in different areas of his life. 

You can listen to the full podcast here, but these are several snippets of Bryant stories you might not have heard before:

Lower Merion High School head coach Gregg Downer: “One time, we were getting ready to play Chester in 1996 in the state semifinals at the Palestra. It was a huge game. Sold out Palestra and Kobe had broken his nose a few days earlier in practice and we were experimenting with a plastic mask for him. He warmed up with it. We had our final chat in the locker room before the game and he took the mask off and he threw it off the wall and he said to the other players ‘Hey, I’m not wearing this damn thing, we’re going to war.’”

Marc J. Spears, NBA writer, ESPN’s The Undefeated: “I remember one time he told me he wasn't gonna do an interview with me because I had an Adidas sweatshirt on. And was adamant about it. It was half joking, half serious was like, ‘Nah dawg, I'm serious because I'm not doing it. You can't disrespect me like that,’ you know because he had that hard breakup with Nike. So I'm like what do you want me to do, take it off now?”


Sabrina Ionescu, 2020 Naismith Player of the Year and New York Liberty guard: “(Gigi) made me want to be a better person on and off the court. She inspired me to be a better role model. She inspired me to be a better player. I knew she looked up to me along with many other athletes and so it made me want to work harder. It made me want to play better just so I can try and pave the way for her and for her teammates.”

Usain Bolt, eight-time Olympic Gold medalist: “When I heard the way he talked about his daughters … I always wanted a son to follow in my footsteps, do what I did. But when I heard what Kobe said, I said I hope I have a girl just to get that feeling. I could see in his eyes how much he loved his girls, the way he talks about them. So I would love to have that feeling. Trust me.”