Kobe Bryant is considered one of the richest athletes of all time; his wealth is estimated to be worth $500 million (£380 million) due to his legendary NBA career, which spans over 20 years until his death on Sunday. He signed for the LA Lakers aged 17 and retired as an 18-time All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team and 12-time member of the All-Defensive team. He died at the age of 41.
The former Los Angeles Lakers player died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, North West Los Angeles along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore. Bryant was a five times NBA champion in LA Lakers where he spent his entire career. Forbes lists him as ninth of the richest athletes with a net worth of $500 million (£380 million).
Bryant retired in 2016 as the highest career earner in the NBA and banked $680 million (£520 million) in salary and endorsements during his two-decade career. He had the highest salary in the NBA for the last six years of his career and on retiring retained endorsements with Nike, Hublot and Panini.
On retiring, Bryant became a business owner and went into partnership with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel where they initially set up a $100 million (£77 million) venture capital fund called Bryant Stibel to invest in technology, media and data companies.
In 2013, they had already invested in 15 companies, which includes a sports media website, The Players Tribune.
In March 2014, he launched Kobe Inc., which would serve as his private investment vehicle. Kobe on the same day announced that he had purchased a 10% equity stake in sports drink BodyArmour for $6 million.
In August 2016, Kobe and business partner Jeff Stibel launched a venture capital company called Byrant-Stibel with $100 million in funding. The fund, which was invested in technology, media and data companies. Jeff and Kobe invested in dozens of companies including sports media website The Players Tribune, LegalZoom, Juicero and videogame designer Scopely.
In August 2018, Coca Cola purchased a stake in BodyArmor that valued the company as a whole at $2 billion. That meant Kobe’s $6 million investment was worth $200 million, on paper, before taxes. The Coca Cola purchase pushed Kobe’s net worth to $600 million.
Bryant was a philanthropist who went beyond establishing business enterprise to touching lives across continents. He was the official ambassador for After-School All-Stars (ASAS), an American non-profit organization that provides comprehensive after-school programs to children in thirteen (13) cities of the United States of America.
He also started the Kobe Bryant China Fund, which collaborated with the Soong Ching Ling Foundation, a charity backed by the Chinese government. The Kobe Bryant China Fund raises money within China for education and health programs. On November 4, 2010, Bryant appeared alongside Zach Braff at the Call of Duty: Black Ops launch event at the Santa Monica Airport, where they presented a $1 million cheque to the Call of Duty Endowment, an activision-founded non-profit organization that helps veterans transition to civilian careers after their military service has ended.
Kobe Bryant’s death brings to fore the safety factor in Nigeria’s aviation sector. Aviation experts and operators in Nigeria recently witness a fatal helicopter crash involving Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. After the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) carried out thorough investigation, their findings revealed that the helicopter had a valid Certificate of Air Worthiness “but the operators of the Helicopter Company failed to carry out risk assessment test of the Kabba Stadium prior to the flight. It also did not carry out safety and risk assessment of the landing area prior to dispatch of the flight. “The helicopter hovered to land in a brownout condition.”
While the world awaits thorough investigation and a comprehensive report on Bryan’s death, negligence could have played a crucial role in this tragic and unfortunate event.
Kobe Bryant was travelling with at least three others on his private helicopter when it went down and crashed. Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa and his three other daughters Natalia, Bianca and Capri.